Vize (pronounced vee-ZAY) is a town in northeastern Turkish Thrace, on the foothills of the Istranca Mountains and about 40 km inland from the Black Sea coast.
Vize is one of the earliest Turkish members of the CittaSlow Movement, promoting a slower, healthier and more local way of life worldwide.
There are fairly frequent (about once every half an hour during day time, about 45 minute-intervals during the rest of the day) buses from Istanbul's bus station, with the last bus departing at 10PM. It takes around two and a half to three hours to get to Vize from Istanbul. They are run by Kale Seyahat.
- Kale Seyahat, Istanbul Otogar no: 139, Esenler-Bayrampaşa, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 18 TL Istanbul-Vize (16 TL if bought online, though you will need Turkish language skills for that).
There are also frequent minibuses from nearby cities and towns such as Saray, Çerkezköy (which also hosts the nearest train station), Çorlu, and Tekirdağ to the south, and Kırklareli to the northwest.
The local 1 bus station (otogar) is just east of the town centre, an easy walking distance away.
When driving from Istanbul to the southeast of town (138 km away, 1½-2 hours driving), the most sensible route to take is the motorway (toll-road) O-3/E80 to the west until the Çerkezköy exit and then proceed via Çerkezköy, and Saray.
Vize is a fairly small town, its downtown basically consisting of a single main street. The old town, where all the sights are clustered, is north of the high street, on a hillside, best accessed from the roundabout at the centre of the town. Quite frequent signs show the way, but they are almost unintelligible if you are driving by, the font being so small.
Hagia Sophia (Greek for "Holy Wisdom") is the common name of a number of Byzantine-era cathedrals and churches across Turkey, with the most notable one located in Istanbul and the other remarkable ones in İznik and Trabzon in the northwest and the northeast of the country respectively.
- 1 Hagia Sophia (Gazi Süleyman Paşa Mosque). Primary attraction of the town. This impressive religious edifice made of red brick typical of the Byzantine monuments is colloquially called Küçük Ayasofya, "Little Hagia Sophia", in Turkish. Unlike the other Hagia Sophias in Turkey, this former cathedral was never turned into a museum and is still a functioning mosque. Although there is not much art (neither Christian nor Islamic) to see inside the mosque, the interior is visitable if the imam is notified, as the gate is locked during non-prayer hours because of a lack of sufficient congregation to keep it open all day. Free.
- 2 Citadel (Kale), Mimar Sinan Mahallesi. Scant remnants of the town's citadel, including that of a tower, can be seen on the pine-covered hill with a wide vista of the town and the plains below. Prior to the construction of the castle, this hilltop was the local acropolis. Just below the citadel is also the ruins of an ancient amphitheater.
- Tumulus. Numerous tumulii, or burial mounds built for the rulers of the Thracian kingdom, can be seen south of town on the wide open plain. While they can be spotted here and there in much of Eastern Thrace, Vize is one of the places they are clustered together in an exceptionally high number, thanks to the importance the town beared in times gone by.
- Trak Otel, Evren Mahallesi, Atatürk Caddesi 201 (in town centre), ☏ , fax: . Rooms with en suite bathrooms, wireless internet connection, satellite TV.
- Taşkan Otel (next to town's otogar), ☏ .
The telephone code of the town is (+90) 288.
- Kıyıköy, or ancient Medea, 38 km east on the coast of the Black Sea, is a historic town surrounded by city walls. The impressive rock-cut monastery of St Nicholas is just in the outskirts, as well as the beaches, all surrounded by a landscape of creeks and forests. Buses departing about once every two hours connect it with Vize.
- Demirköy to the north, going through the beautiful forests of the Istranca Mountains, also makes a perfect trip from Vize, although only feasible if you have a car at your disposal as direct public transport links do not exist. From there on, you can visit a medieval foundry, the Dupnisa Cave, and İğneada further to the northeast on the coast, surrounded by lakes and lush forests.