Where to Visit in Rize
Rize is the capital city of Rize Province in the eastern part of the Black Sea Region of Turkey. Rize is a typically Turkish provincial capital with little in the way of nightlife or entertainment. However the border with Georgia has been open since the early 1990s, the Black Sea coast road has been widened and the town is much wealthier than it used to be. Current Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan’s family has its roots in Rize and the local university is named after him. The city is linked by road with Trabzon (41 miles [66 km] west), Hopa (55 miles [88 km] east on the Georgian border and Erzurum (south). Rize–Artvin Airport started operating in 2022.
The name comes from Greek ρίζα (riza) or Ριζαίον (Rizaion), meaning “mountain slopes”. In modern times, its Greek name was usually Ριζούντα (Rizunda). Its Latin forms are Rhizus and Rhizaeum, the latter of which is used in the Catholic Church’s list of titular sees as the name of bishopric of the town, which was once part of the late Roman province of Pontus Polemoniacus.
Arrian was the first writer to mention Rize. In his Periplus of the Euxine Sea, he described it as a city founded at the mouth of the river of the same name, the ancient and Byzantine ῾Ρίζιος ποταμός .Dated to 130–131AD and written as a letter to Roman Emperor Hadrian, the work records how its author, the governor of Cappadocia, made a tour of the Eastern Black Sea territories that formed part of his jurisdiction, first visiting the Roman Empire’s Eastern Anatolian frontier garrisons before pushing on to the Black Sea coast in the Trabzon (Trebizond) region. The city of Rize formed part of the historic Georgian province of Chaneti.
From 1547, Chaneti province was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire and became a part of the sancak of Lazistan. The city was claimed by the short-lived Democratic Republic of Georgia between 1918 and 1920. On the basis of the 1921 Treaty of Kars, Soviet Russia granted Rize to Turkey along with the other territories of Artvin, Ardahan, and Hopa.
The city is built around a small bay on the Black Sea coast, on a narrow strip of flat land between the sea and the mountains behind. The coastal strip is being expanded with landfill and the city is expanding up the steep hillsides away from the coast.
Rize is probably best known for its black tea which was introduced to the region in the 1940s and 1950s, changing the destiny of a region which was until then desperately poor. The local tea research institute was founded in 1958 and other tea gardens can be seen all around the town. Tea is even planted in local gardens. Rize is a centre for processing and shipping locally grown Rize Tea. More recently kiwifruit plants have also been grown in Rize. Fishing remains another important local source of income. Tourism to destinations in and around Rize is growing in importance.
Rize has a humid subtropical climate and is vulnerable to storms coming off the Black Sea. However, as any mountainous region of Turkey, it is rich in climatic variety. The climate turns oceanic (Cfb) on the hillsides, continental (Dfb/Dc) and subarctic (Dfc/Eo) on the mountain slopes and in the yaylas, the highlands and highland plateaus. When the Köppen climate classification was being created, the city centre had a borderline oceanic-humid subtropical climate, falling just under the 22 °C (72 °F) threshold for the hottest month of the year, yet climate change and global warming have contributed to its being classified as humid subtropical in recent decades.
The city’s climate is defined by mild temperate conditions, with warm summers, cool winters and heavy rainfall year-round with a maximum in late autumn (October to December). The city has relatively few sunshine hours, lower than many stereotypically cloudy locations in Western Europe. Snowfall is occasional, but can be very heavy once it starts. The water temperature, typical for the Black Sea coast, is never too warm or cold, fluctuating between 8 and 20 °C (46 and 68 °F) throughout the year. Rize Castle is a partly ruined medieval castle to the southwest of the city centre.
Traditional cuisine in the city quite rich and the anchovy forms the basic for many of the dishes peculiar to the region. Soups, salads, pilafs and even desserts are made of anchovy. Some of the local dishes are hamsi buğulama (boiled anchovy), hamsi stew, and kamsi köfte (anchovy meatballs). Lahana çorbası (cabbage soup), muhlama (made of cheese, cornmeal and butter) and pides (pita bread topped with various fillings) are also other local delicacies.
Rize tea is a major agricultural product to the region and has changed the local economy. Rize Province is also one of the largest consumers of Rize tea too.
The province of Rize has prided itself of being the largest tea producer within Turkey. In 2021, the Rize Commerce Exchange started the construction of a seven-floor building in the shape of the traditional tulip-shaped tea glasses called ince belli, in hopes to boost local tourism.
Folk dancers perform horon energetically when it is accompanied by kemenche. However this folk dance can also be accompanied by Tulum or kaval. Folk dancers wear traditional costumes while performing horon. Men wear shirt, vest, jacket, zipka (pants made of wool and gathered at knees) and black boots. On their jackets are silver embroideries, amulets, and hemayils with religion expressions put inside these small silver containers to br protected against evil’s eye. On the other hand, women dancers wear colorful dresses and traditional hand painted head scarves including various motifs.
Rize offers a rich variety of traditional handicrafts and handmade souvenirs to visitors. Some of them include: copper works, wicker baskets, butter churns, woven socks, shoulder bags, and spoon made of boxwood. Linen of Rize (Turkish: Rize Bezi) is a handwoven textile and is often used as part of the under layer of a dress. Kemençe is a traditional 3-stringed string instrument which is made in this province.
Sites in the province include: Ayder – A yayla (high meadow) area with hot springs, hotels and restaurants, and from here you can climb up to higher and more remote meadows and villages. Çamlık – riverside area of forest park. Fırtına Vadisi – the valley is now a protected site. Ovit – mountain pass on the Erzurum road in Ikizdere, 2,640 metres (8,660 ft), forest and mountain viewpoint. The village and waterfall of Palovit, high in the mountains. Avup Dağı, the mountain between Rize and Çamlıhemşin, between Fırtına Deresı and Ortaköy Deresi. There are four Byzantine castles situated high on rocks on the mountainside including; Kale-i Balâ and Zilkale, Huser Yaylası – Huser plateau is connected to Çamlıhemşin district of Rize. Huser Plateau, one of the highest plateaus of the Black Sea, must be visited with its unique view. Other buildings of note include: The watch tower, Kız Kalesi on the sea front in Pazar.