Earth : Europe : Turkey : Marmara (region) : Eastern Thrace : Demirkoy
Demirköy, literally "iron village", is a small town surrounded by forests up on the lush Istranca Mountains, in northeastern Thrace, not far from Black Sea coast (which lies roughly 25 km to east).
Demirköy lies on the heavily winding but wide enough and well surfaced road connecting inland town of Pınarhisar with İğneada on the Black Sea coast. Surrounded by verdant forests all along, a trip along this stretch of road is highly scenic, especially in spring when purple rhododendrons are in full bloom along the sides of the road, and in autumn when all the forest is drowned into gorgeous colours.
There is also another road with highly scenic surroundings from Vize to south, via the village of Sivriler.
Görkey & Berk Turizm operates bus services to the town from Istanbul, eventually heading to İğneada, six times daily during summer, four times daily during the rest of the year. It takes around four and a half hours to get to Demirköy from Istanbul.
There is also a single daily bus connection with Kırklareli to east.
Nearby İğneada, 25 km down the road on the Black Sea coast, has a wider selection of guesthouses.
Area code of the town is (+90) 288.
Perhaps the most fascinating cave in Eastern Thrace, Dupnisa Cave (Dupnisa Mağarası) lies around 25 km southwest of Demirköy, deep in the forest. (Take the road signposted with a brown Dupnisa Mağarası sign, which branches off at the 15th km of Demirköy-Pınarhisar road. After about 5 km, you'll arrive at the village of Sarpdere. The road turns into a gravel road here, which lasts for 5 km until Dupnisa.) Opened to tourism in 2005, though unfortunately at the cost of hundreds of bats who called there home and part of the bed of underground creek which formed the cave in the first place, it is pretty much possible to easily visit a 400-mt section of this 2-km long cave.
The cave has two entrances, with the main one opening to what is called "wet cave" (ıslak mağara or sulu mağara), due to the underground creek flowing through here. A 250-mt concrete and siderailed path, in addition to bright illuminations let visitors to have a smooth stroll here, without getting their feet wet even with a single drop of water. This part of the cave is still pretty much in forming stage, with most vertical surfaces covered with surreal-looking stalactites. The rest of the wet cave, in which creek flows all along and some underground lakes up to 2 metres of depth can be found, is only open to cavers who know what they are doing.
At the end of the path through the wet cave start the concrete stairs—this is the part of the cave that is called "dry cave" (kuru mağara), and you will inevitably meet some bats here, just don't panic and don't scare them off. After a quite demanding walk up for about 150 mt and seeing some more stalactites, you will reach back to ground level (actually 30 mt higher in elevation than the entrance of wet cave). From here, instead of going back in, you may return by following the waymarked trail through the forest to the main entrance, which takes around 15 minutes on foot.
Ancients used to conduct rituals—involving human sacrifice—to their most respected god (of wine), Dionysos (originally Thracian but later came to be known for his seat at Greek pantheon in the much wider part of the world) in Dupnisa. There is a theory that the very name of Dionysos evolved from Dupnisa, or Nyssa, the other name the cave was known by in ancient times.
The temperature of the cave ranges between +10 and 17°C year-round, so pack along appropriately.
Wet cave is open 15 May-15 Nov 9AM-sunset, while dry cave is open year round 9AM-sunset. 2 TL pp. The surrounding forest is a popular weekend retreat for locals, so can be a little bit crowded especially during spring and summer months. Basic snacks—such as corn on the cob, cheese pancake, and grilled sausages—can also be obtained from vendors in the surrounding area during weekends.