Çorlu (ˈtʃɔɪr.lʊ) is a city in Tekirdağ Province in inland Eastern Thrace, the European part of Turkey. It is a rapidly developing industrial centre in a flat area on the road from Istanbul to Turkey's border with Greece and Bulgaria. As of the 2000 census it had a population of 141,525, almost double the 1990 figure of 74,681.
Çorlu lies 10 m above sea level and has hot summers and cold winters.
Bronze Age relics have been found in various areas of Thrace including Çorlu and by 1000 BC the area was a Phrygian colony named Tzirallum. The area was subsequently controlled by Greeks, Persians, Macedonians, Romans and then the Byzantines. The Roman name of Çorlu was Caenophrurium, and was the place where Emperor Aurelian was murdered in 275. There were important Roman and Byzantine fortifications here and the town was a base for controlling large areas of Thrace.
After a long struggle and some to-ing and fro-ing Çorlu was permanently brought under Ottoman control by Sultan Murat I. Murat I immediately ordered the destruction of the Roman walls. In the Ottoman period the town remained an important staging post on the road from Istanbul to Greece.
The village of Uğraşdere near Çorlu is the battleground where Sultan Beyazid II was defeated by his son Selim I, the first Ottoman father to be overthrown by his son. Beyazid II died in Çorlu on his way to exile in Dimetoka, and coincidentally Selim later also died while journeying through here. Both father and son are buried in Istanbul.
In the late 18th century Turkish refugees were settled in Çorlu when the Ottomans lost control of the Crimea. The grandchildren of these people were to meet the Russians themselves when Çorlu was briefly occupied by Russian troops in The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.
During the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 Çorlu was the command post of the Ottoman army, but was taken by Bulgarian troops in December 1912. Çorlu was recaptured by Turkish forces during the Second Balkan War in July 1913.
Çorlu was then occupied by Greek troops from 1920 to 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence, and was freed after a struggle by local resistance.
Çorlu is still an important garrison of the Turkish army today, home for the 189th Infantry Regiment.
A dirty industrial city (caused by lack of control from factory pollution), larger than the provincial centre of Tekirdağ, the population grew initially through the Turks from Bulgaria, the traditional left-leaning, beer-drinking industrial working-class of Çorlu. In the 1990s a second wave of migrants from Anatolia came to work in the factories here. These people are rural conservatives and not used to an urban lifestyle, and currently there are two cultures co-existing in Çorlu. There is also a Gypsy community.
The town centre has a typical Turkish rural town feel to it. A collection of grey concrete blocks providing public buildings, basic shopping and fast-food, and essential infrastructure but little in the way of culture except for cinemas and large rooms hired out for wedding parties. There is no respectable nightlife, although Çorlu is famous as a sordid venue for the entertainment of the male population of Thrace. However, because Çorlu is so close to Istanbul, people can easily go into the city at the weekend. Çorlu's shopping facilities have recently been enhanced by the large (25 km²) Orion Mall.
Çorlu is a textile producing town, Levi's, for example, have a factory here and has recently acquired a number of large 'outlet malls' to attract consumers to travel from all over Thrace or Istanbul in search of discount clothing. As well as textiles, Çorlu produces foodstuffs and soft drinks like coca-cola, ice-cream and mayonnaise.