Thrace and Ancient Stories
We encounter the name Thrace, coined in the ancient Greek mythology for referring to the Thracian tribes, first in Homer’s famous Iliad.
Agamemnon one of the commanders of the Trojan War sets out to join the war with his ships but accidentally shoots a sacred deer. The gods get very angry with this and stop the winds to punish the commander. Agamemnon begs the gods to restore the wind for a long time, and ultimately the gods say that they will grant his wish on one single condition; the commander will sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the gods. Agamemnon obeys the command, but the mother, Clytemnestra, never forgives her husband and takes her revenge by killing him at the end of the war. Orestes, witnesses all these, is taken from the palace and raised elsewhere. When he becomes an adult and returns to his mother, he avenges his father’s murder by killing his mother. However, this time the revenge gods hunts down Orestes and offer Orestes a chance to wash his dirty hands off with mother’s blood and purify himself from sins. Only if Orestes finds a spot to wash his hands where the three rivers meet, will he find peace.
According to the story, Orestes seeks such a place for years and eventually finds Edirne, where Arda, Maritsa and Tundzha rivers join. “I have found it!” he exclaims. Orestes never returns, and he spends his life here establishing the town he calls Oresteia.
Today, the region of Thrāikē, which encompasses the cities of Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ, and Çanakkale, attracts visitors from Turkey and abroad with its historical and cultural mosaic just as it did Orestes thousands of years ago.
Once Thrace takes the human soul captive, it never lets go with the following elements: the magnificent Selimiye Mosque, described by Mimar Sinan as his masterpiece and covered by the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Sultan II, Bayezid Külliyesi Health Museum recognized with the European Council’s European Museum Award in 2004, Eski Mosque placed in our memories thanks to Ara Güler’s famous photo, and many other mosques, churches, baths, Europe’s biggest and the world’s third biggest synagogue, beautiful old houses, mansions, dolmens in the villages, yellow and green plains that stretch until eternity, and sunflower fields.
On a summer day, you may find yourself watching the wrestlers at 655-year-old Kırkpınar events, which feature on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Then, in a sudden, you are at Saroz Gulf swimming and diving in clear waters. For instance, you go to Uçmakdere (Tekirdağ) and do paragliding. In Çanakkale, you stroll in ancient times, in the footsteps of Homer, then you enter Keşan’s neighborhood coffee houses, listen to the gifted Roma people’s incredibly beautiful music, as Burhan Öçal does. And then you go to the Kakava festival, celebrate the arrival of spring again with the Romani’s music, dancing, writing your wishes beneath the rose trees and jumping over the fire. You take part in the bead night, an ancient Thrace tradition, make or eat pumpkin deserts, and scare people on the streets by wearing masks.
After playing around this much, you naturally feel hungry, and you devour famous pan-fried liver, meatballs, salted lokma, migrant pastries, Thrace cheese, pomegranate Turkish delights, almond paste and deva-i misk delicately.
Still, something is missing. It is because in Thrace time constantly renews itself, and there is no end to things requiring discovery. Orestes committed great sins, while modern people look for great peace. Your destiny unites with the heroes of Homer in Thrace.