Rize is a small and ancient city on the shore of the Black Sea. The first mentions of this settlement go back to 132 B.C., making Rize older than many famous European cities. Having a little place on the narrow strip between the mountains and the sea, Rize welcomes every tourist with the cries of seagulls and smiles of the locals.
Actually, it is not listed among popular touristic destinations, and European-looking people are rare here. If you have light hair, pale skin or blue eyes, get ready that people will stare at you wherever you go, and those brave enough will ask for a selfie with you. While you will feel like a celebrity a bit, you will understand how hospitable, helpful and open-hearted the locals are.
When you walk around this city, take your time to look up and observe the mountains covered with green tea bushes. This place is the center of Turkey’s tea industry, thanks to the perfect conditions for growing this plant.
Previously, Rize had been famous not for tea, but for oranges, throughout its history – till the early 20th century. At that time, the weather destroyed the crops, and the whole industry faded in oblivion. As a substitute, tea was introduced in 1940s, making it the main industry of the whole city. The tea grown here is regularly collected and processed in the local factories. After that, it is distributed all over Turkey and even exported.
When Rize, you can’t not visit the local Botanical Tea Garden. To get to it, you can to walk for twenty minutes or so from the main square (with the Ataturk monument, of course) along the main road. The Garden is situated right near the Caykur tea factory. It is a special pleasure to drink a cup of local tea here. If you are not in the mood to get to here on foot, you can take a taxi which will cost you 8 TRY (around $3) from the city center.
Another sight which is a must for every traveler is Rize Castle. It was built long ago by Genoese people, and now is an exceptionally interesting place not only for history lovers, but for every tourist. Its upper part even contains a cafe where you can drink tea or Turkish coffee and enjoy the wonderful coastal view. To get there, ask the locals how to get to the castle (‘kale nerede?’ – where is the castle?). Otherwise, you can take a taxi again. It will also cost you 8 TRY from the main square.
Apart from these widely known places, Rize also has a unique pedestrian bridge. The locals tell that it is the longest pedestrian bridge in Turkey. It starts in the center of the city, leads you above several streets and roads as well as the highway to bring you directly to the seafront. The bridge resembles an interchange for cars, as it has several branches and exits down in different places.