Vize (Turkish: [ˈvize]; Greek: Βιζύη; Bulgarian: Виза) is a town in Kırklareli Province in the Marmara region of Turkey. It is the seat of Vize District.[2] Its population is 15,116 (2022).[1] The mayor is Ercan Özalp (CHP). The town's distance to the provincial centre is 56 km (35 mi). Vize is situated on state road D.020, which runs from Istanbul to Edirne via Kırklareli. In 2012 Vize was designated a Cittaslow (Slow City).[3]

Vize is located in Turkey
Location in Turkey
Vize is located in Marmara
Vize (Marmara)
Coordinates: 41°34′25″N 27°45′55″E / 41.57361°N 27.76528°E / 41.57361; 27.76528
 • MayorErcan Özalp (CHP)
168 m (551 ft)
Time zoneUTC+3 (TRT)
Postal code
Area code0288





Under the ancient name of Bizya or Bizye (Ancient Greek: Βιζύη) Vize served as a capital for the ancient Thracian tribe of the Asti, and was mentioned by several ancient authors.[4][5]

From inscriptions it seems that during the late 1st century BCE Bizye was under local rule of the Sapians rather than under direct Roman control.[6]: 73 

The martyrs Memnon and Severos were killed in Bizye as part of the Diocletianic Persecution beginning in 303.[6]: 289  In 353 CE, the exiled Eustathius of Antioch chose to settle in Bizye, where he later died.[6]: 289  The city is documented as the seat of an archbishop, as a suffragan of Heraclea, as early as the 5th century.[6]: 289 

Middle Ages


Beginning in the 6th century, water was piped from Bizye to Constantinople, and some of the pipes are still visible.[6]: 289  In 773 or 774, the emperor Constantine V had a bridge built here.[6]: 289 

Bizye is described as a city (polis) in the province of Europe in the Synecdemus of Hierocles, as well as later in the De Thematibus of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.[6]: 289 

The city appears to be identical with the "Uzusa" (Greek: Οὔζουσα) mentioned by the council in Trullo in 692, which was signed by one Geōrgios elachistos episkopos Uzusēs tēs Thrakōn chōras.[6] Since there is no signature for a representative of Bizye in the document, it is assumed that they are the same place.[6]: 690 

Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions indicate that Khan Krum captured and probably destroyed Bizye.[6]: 289  During the 9th and 10th centuries the town served as the head of a tourmarches.[6]: 289  In the aftermath of Thomas the Slav's rebellion in 823, his stepson Anastasios attempted to take refuge in Bizye but was handed over by the city's residents to the emperor.[6]: 289  The folk saint Mary the Younger lived in Bizye after her marriage in 896 to Nikephoros, who was tourmarches here.[6]: 289  After her death in 903, she was venerated as a saint, and her cult became very popular in Bizye and the surrounding regions.[6]: 289 

The Bulgarian emperor Simeon I captured Bizye in c. 925 after a five-year-long siege; the city's walls were destroyed, and most of its population fled to nearby Medea.[6]: 289  Whether Bizye was later targeted during Peter I's campaign in eastern Thrace in 927 is uncertain.[6]: 289 

In the 12th century, the Arab geographer al-Idrisi described Bizye as a large and well-fortified city in a fertile valley, with thriving commerce and industry.[6]: 290  When Cuman invaders came and looted eastern Thrace in 1199, a Byzantine army was dispatched from Bizye to repel them.[6]: 289  They were at first successful, but their initial victory was squandered because the Byzantine troops got greedy.[6]: 289 

After the sack of Constantinople in April 1204, Bizye became part of the new Latin Empire as per the Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae.[6]: 290  The city did not submit to the Latins at first, and it wasn't until March 1205 that it was brought to heel, along with the similarly rebellious cities of Arcadiopolis (modern Lüleburgaz) and Tzurulon (modern Çorlu).[6]: 290  Just one month later, though, the Latin army was defeated by a combined force of Bulgars and Cumans led by Tsar Kaloyan, who then launched a series of invasions throughout eastern Thrace.[6]: 290  Bizye was one of the few cities in the region that remained unaffected by these incursions.[6]: 290  Toward the end of 1205, the nobleman Anseau de Cayeux was sent to garrison the city along with 120 knights.[6]: 290  Later in June 1206, the emperor Henry of Flanders set up camp at Bizye, which was honored as "mult ere bone et forz".[6]: 290 

Sometime after 1225, an Epirote force under Theodore Komnenos Doukas advanced on Bizye, but they were unable to take possession of the city.[6]: 290  In 1237, the Cumans again invaded Thrace, and many of Bizye's residents were captured and sold as slaves.[6]: 290  In August 1246, the Latin emperor Baldwin II negotiated a deal with the Order of Saint James which would have ceded Bizye and Medea to the order along with possessions in Constantinople. However the treaty was never put into effect.[6]: 290  In 1147, Bizye (along with Tzurulon, Medea, and Derkos) came under the control of John III Doukas Vatatzes, who had allied with the Bulgarians.[6]: 290 

Either at the end of 1255 or the beginning of 1256, the emperor Theodore II Laskaris defeated a combined Bulgarian and Cuman force somewhere between Bizye and Bulgarophygon (modern Babeski).[6]: 290  He then concluded a peace treaty that fixed a new border in the upper Maritsa valley.[6]: 290 

From 1286 to 1355, Bizye was the centre of one of three known military districts called megala allagia (the other two were Thessaloniki and Serres.[6]: 290  This district covered the entire area stretching roughly from Mesembria in the north to Arcadiopolis in the west and the suburbs of Constantinople in the east.[6]: 290 

In 1304, a large Byzantine army was assembled at Bizye, commanded by emperor Michael IX and Michael Doukas Glabas Tarchaneiotes in an attempt to stop an incursion under Theodore Svetoslav of Bulgaria.[6]: 291  The Byzantines had already been defeated at Skaphidas and at Bizye they were defeated again.[6]: 291 

In 1307, over the protests of the megas tzausios Humbertopoulos, the local population attempted to fight a Catalan force with Turkish auxiliaries under the command of Ferran Ximenes de Arenos.[6]: 291  They were defeated, and the Catalans looted the city.[6]: 291  The city was again looted in 1313, this time by a Turkish force led by Ḫalil; the Turks were later defeated in battle at Xerogypsos.[6]: 291 

In the winter of 1322, Syrgiannes Palaiologos captured Bizye along with Raidestos (modern Tekirdağ) and Sergentzion, but almost immediately lost the city to the forces of Andronikos III Palaiologos.[6]: 291  Andronikos himself stayed in Bizye for several days during the summer of 1324 due to an illness.[6]: 291  That September, Bizye's annual donation to the Patriarchate of Constantinople was set at 100 hyperpera.[6]: 291  Andronikos returned to Bizye with an army in 1328, in anticipation of an attack by his former ally Michael Shishman that never came.[6]: 291  In the summer of 1332, the theologian Matthaios of Ephesos stopped in Bizye en route to Brysis, where he had been appointed to office; he only stayed briefly, but he wrote that there were numerous holy wells or hagiasmata (Turkish: ayazma) in the area, which were consecrated to the Blessed Mother.[6]: 291  The area around Bizye was described as unsafe due to the presence of robbers[6]: 291 

In 1344, Bizye was captured by John VI Kantakouzenos, who installed his general Manuel Komnenos Raul Asen as governor of the city.[6]: 291  A few years later, in the late 1340s, a force of 1,200 Turkish horsemen penetrated Byzantine territory as far as Bizye.[6]: 291  After Matthew Kantakouzenos was forced to abdicate the imperial throne, Bizye remained under his effective control, and he stayed here several times in 1356.[6]: 291 

As part of a synodal act in August 1355, which ratified an alliance between the emperor John V Palaiologos and Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria, the metropolitanate of Bizye was given the archdiocese of Derkos as an epidosis for about two years.[6]: 291  A similar thing happened with the diocese of Stauropolis in July 1361.[6]: 291 

The inhabitants of Bizye were possibly resettled in 1357 or 58, perhaps because of Turkish brigands taking advantage of the fact that the city's garrison had been depleted by the fighting between John V Palaiologos and Matthew Kantakouzenos.[6]: 291–2 

In the autumn of 1358, Manuel Asanes, Matthew's uncle-turned-enemy, asked John V to make him governor of Bizye.[6]: 292 

In 1368, Bizye came under the control of the Gazi Turks along with other areas in the southern Istranca mountains.[6]: 292 [7]: 59  The metropolitan of Bizye was reassigned to Mesembria and Anchialos to compensate for the loss of Bizye.[6]: 292 [7]: 59  During the Ottoman civil war, Bizye was ceded by the Ottoman emir Süleyman Çelebi to Manuel II Palaiologos in 1403 and then reconquered by the Ottomans under Musa Çelebi in 1410 or 1411.: 292 [7]: 59–61  After the elimination of Musa, Sultan Mehmed I restored the town to Manuel II Palaiologos in 1413.[6]: 292 [7]: 61 

Ottoman period


Bizye finally came under definitive Turkish control at the beginning of 1453, possibly under Karaca Paşa.[6]: 292 [7]: 64 

The Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi visited Vize in 1661, during his sixth journey.[6]: 292  He described it as the seat of a sanjak-bey, inhabited by a mixture of Turks, Bulgarians, and Greeks, and famous for its leeks.[6]: 292 

According to the Ottoman population statistics of 1914, the kaza of Vize had a total population of 14,109, consisting of 10,020 Muslims and 4,089 Greeks.[8]

Places of interest

Little Hagia Sophia of Vize (now, Gazi Süleyman Paşa Cami )

The acropolis area on the hill above the town has a commanding position overlooking the surrounding area and still retains some ancient remains;[9] the remains of the ancient theatre were discovered on the slope of the acropolis in the 1990s. Many burial mounds constructed for the rulers of Thracian Kingdom are scattered cross the plains around the town.

Little Hagia Sophia Church (Gazi Süleyman Pasha Mosque) (Turkish: Küçük Ayasofya Kilisesi (Gazi Süleyman Paşa Camii)) is a former Byzantine era Orthodox church built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527–565). It converted into a mosque in the Ottoman era. Designed on a basilican plan, the church was constructed over the foundations of A Temple of Apollo with masonry stone and brick. The cruciform-shaped church consisted of a nave with two rows of columns with three columns each, two aisles and an apse. Its original wooden roof was replaced in the 12th and 13th centuries by a high dome. The building is vaulted around the dome in a style that is not normally seen in Byzantine architecture.[10][11]

Remains of the city wall

Vize Fortress (Turkish: Vize Kalesi) is a fortification constructed in the Ancient Roman era at the northwest of the town. The fortress is believed to have been built originally in 72-76 B.C., and was revived during the reign of Justinian I. It is constructed of clear cut stones and rubble masonry on foundations with stone blocks of 50 cm × 80 cm (20 in × 31 in) and 100 cm × 150 cm (39 in × 59 in). The bluish colour of the stones of the north wall indicates that this section was rebuilt in the Late Byzantine era during the Palaeologian dynasty. The fortress consists of two nested walls. The western and southern walls are intact. An inscription in Greek letters found at the fortress, says "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." It is exhibited in Kırklareli Museum.[12]

Roman theatre

The Theatre (Turkish: antik tiyatro) was built in the 2nd century during the Late Roman era and is the only one known in Thrace. It was discovered in 1998 during archaeological excavations carried out on the Çömlektepe tumulus. Parts of the cavea (spectators' seats) still exist with aisles between the seats as do parts of the scaenae (stage) and orchestra. Reliefs from the scaenae frons, the stage backdrop, are exhibited in Kırklareli Museum.[13]

The town also has some Ottoman structures, in addition to an ancient synagogue.



  1. ^ a b "Address-based population registration system (ADNKS) results dated 31 December 2022, Favorite Reports" (XLS). TÜİK. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  2. ^ İlçe Belediyesi, Turkey Civil Administration Departments Inventory. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  3. ^ "Vize | Cittaslow International". Retrieved 2022-10-30.
  4. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia. Vol. 4.18.
  5. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. Vol. s.v. Βιζύη.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be Külzer, Andreas; Koder, Johannes (2008). Tabula Imperii Byzantini Bd. 12. Ostthrakien (Eurōpē). Wien: Börsedruck Ges.m.b.H. ISBN 978-3-7001-3945-4. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e Bakalopoulos, A. (1962). "Les limites de l'empire byzantin depuis la fin du XIVe siècle jusqu'à sa chute (1453)". Byzantinische Zeitschrift. 55: 56–65. doi:10.1515/byzs.1962.55.1.56.
  8. ^ Kemal Karpat (1985), Ottoman Population, 1830-1914, Demographic and Social Characteristics, The University of Wisconsin Press, p. 170-171
  9. ^ Byzantine Church - Ottoman Mosque - Endangered Architectural Monument: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey of the Hagia Sophia at Vize
  10. ^ "Küçük Ayasofya Kilisesi (Süleyman Paşa Camii)" (in Turkish). 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  11. ^ "Hagia Sophia in Bizye". The Byzantine Legacy. Retrieved 2022-10-30.
  12. ^ "Vize Kalesi" (in Turkish). 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  13. ^ "Antik Tiyatro (Odeon)" (in Turkish). 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2011-12-18.