Culture and history info
Ongoing archeological excavations in the city support the claim that the area was the location of one of the first organized settlements on the European continent, with artifacts from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The settlement and its surrounding areas were conquered by the Persians in 513–512 BC, during the reign of King Darius I.
In 914 during the Bulgarian invasion in Adrianople led by Simeon I, the settlement was captured by the Bulgarians and was under Bulgarian rule until 1003 when it was lost to the Byzantines.
The Ottoman Turks took the city and its region from the Byzantines in 1363, during the reign of Sultan Murad I.
The city was damaged during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).
According to the 1878 record "Ethnography of the Wilayahs Adrianopol, Monastir and Thessaloniki" Kırk Kilise was inhabited by 6,700 Bulgarians, 2,850 Greeks, and 2,700 belonging to other ethnic groups.
According to the official Ottoman census of 1906–1907 (published in "The Ottoman Population 1830–1914: Demographic and Social Characteristics" by Kemal H. Karpat), the ethnic-religious breakdown in the Sanjak of Kırk Kilise was: 22,022 Muslims; 14,154 Greek Orthodox; 1,599 Bulgarian Orthodox; and 789 Jews.
During the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) Kırk Kilise was occupied by Bulgaria, and then by Greece in the aftermath of World War I (1914–1918) resulting in mass immigration of Bulgarian population (there were a large number of journalists who reported on the actions at Kırk Kilise). Following the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922) the city was retaken by the Turks on November 10, 1922. According to the 1923 population exchange agreement between Greece and Turkey, the Greeks of the city were exchanged for the Muslims (Turks, Pomaks, Karadjaovalides and Albanians) living in Greece.
Most of the inhabitants of the city are Turks who formerly lived in Thessaloniki until the First Balkan War of 1912. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) which defines Turkey's western border in Thrace also defined the western boundaries of the Kırklareli Province.