Vize (pronounced vee-ZAY) is a town in Eastern Thrace in Turkey. It's in the foothills of the Istranca Mountains, 40 km from the Black Sea coast. In 2012 the town had a population of 12,543, with 28,228 in the whole district.
Vize of old was Bizye (in Greek Βιζύη) and stood on the northern route between Byzantium / Constantinople and Europe: the Roman historian Livy stated that it was the capital of the Thracian tribe of Asti. Every passing army smashed the place up, and around 550 AD Vize was fortified with a citadel. Its Hagia Sophia church was also built around then, later becoming Gazi Süleyman Paşa mosque. The smashings-up continued until 1453, when the Ottomans gained Constantinople and Thrace, so thereafter the town could quietly get on with making cheese and honey. Like other towns in Thrace, Vize had large populations of Greeks and Bulgars, but these were expelled after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
The main road to Europe now passes much further south, and Vize is too far west (for the time being) to be part of Istanbul's commuter belt. Visitors coming here from the metropolis are just passing through on their way to the Black Sea beaches. So the town hasn't grown much, and its industries remain textiles and small-scale agriculture. The hilly terrain and small plots of land make for subsistence or market-gardening rather than mechanised extensive agriculture - you might even encounter buffalo - and most produce is consumed or processed locally. For instance, the forests are managed for firewood and charcoal, with only a small amount hewn into furniture.
Kale Seyahat (which means "Castle Travel") buses run hourly from Istanbul Bayrampaşa, taking about 3 hr via Çerkezköy and Saray for a fare of 80TL. Pamukkale Turizm and Istanbul Seyahat bus lines also serve this route. Most buses continue to Kırklareli, while those across the hills to Demirköy and İğneada on the Black Sea coast are suspended in 2021. Frequent dolmuses run from Çorlu, which has buses from Tekirdağ and Istanbul city and airport.
Vize 1 bus station (otogar) is east side of town centre.
Çerkezköy is the nearest railway station, but all trains are suspended in 2021.
Vize is a small town, with its downtown a single main street. The old town, where all the sights are clustered, is on a hillside north of main street. Reach them from the roundabout in town centre, though the signage is poor.
- "Here were watchtowers built under the administration of Firmus, the son of Aulus Pores, along with Aulus Kenthes, the son of Rytes the son of Kenthes, and Rabdus, the son of Hyakinthus."
- - inscription on the citadel
- Town centre is ticky-tacky modern low-rise, but Yeni Cami ("new mosque") in town centre has attractive tilework.
- 1 Gazi Süleyman Paşa Mosque (Little Hagia Sophia, Küçük Ayasofya Kilisesi). 24 hrs. A Byzantine redbrick church, built circa 550 AD in the time of Justinian I, on a basilica plan. "Hagia Sophia" (Ἁγία Σοφία) is Greek for "Holy Wisdom" and there are some 30 churches of that name, with the best known in Istanbul. The Turkish churches later became mosques and the Vize mosque is still in use. The interior is plain, with no minbar (pulpit); somewhere beneath it lies a Temple of Apollo. The building was restored in 2007 and is supposedly open 24 hours, though you may have to ask around for the key, or peek in after prayer times. Free.
- The Citadel or acropolis is just north of Little Hagia Sophia, up the hill on Hisar Cd (meaning Castle St). It was built by the Romans circa 72-76 BC and rebuilt under Justinian I. There are scrappy remains of citadel walls and a tower, but antiquities found here have been taken to the museum in Kırklareli. Nice views from the pine-covered hilltop.
- Hasanbey Mosque 100 m downhill from Little Hagia Sophia was a 14th century synagogue, later converted to a mosque. It was restored in 2007.
- 2 The Amphitheatre lower down the hill was only discovered in 1998. It's from 2nd century AD, late Roman, and the only amphitheatre yet found in Thrace. Free if you find it open, but excavation and stabilisation work continues.
- Tumuli are ancient burial mounds for the rulers of Thrace. They're found all over the region, but especially near Vize, dotting the plain to the south. Excavation of Çömlektepe tumulus in town revealed the amphitheatre.
- Sultan's Trail is a 2500 km long-distance cycling and hiking route, retracing the steps of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during his march upon Vienna in 1529. Across Eastern Thrace there's choice of routes, and Vize is on the northern branch, with Saray the next major town west.
Migros next to the bus station is open daily 08:30-22:00.
- Town centre places are strung along Devlet, the street one block south of main street.
- Nehir Konya Etliekmek and Mostar Boşnak Böreği are east of the bus station and Trak Otel.
- Leeks: the 17th century explorer Derviş Mehmed Zillî, better known by his alias Evliya Çelebi, came through Vize, and about the best thing he could say of town was that it grew nice leeks.
The town doesn't have free-standing bars, but many cafes serve beer.
- Trak Otel, Evren Mahallesi, Atatürk Cd 201 (200 m east of bus station), ☏ . Basic rooms with en suite bathrooms, wifi, satellite TV. Cleanliness erratic.
- Monopetra Otel, Sultan Çeşme Cd 40 (500 m north of centre), ☏ . Boxy modern place, usually clean. B&B double 300 TL.
As of Nov 2021, Vize has 4G from all Turkish carriers, with Turkcell extending to the countryside around. 5G has not reached this area.
- Kıyıköy is a beach resort on the Black Sea coast, with the monastery of St Nicholas carved out its bedrock. You pass a Genoese castle on the way to Kıyıköy.
- Demirköy has a medieval foundry, the Dupnisa Cave and the beach resort of İğneada.
|Routes through Vize|
|Edirne ← Kırklareli ← Junction (N / S) ←||W E||→ Saray → Istanbul|