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Der Oude Haven in Rotterdam, Bild: Z. Jacobs / shutterstock

Rotterdam – Europe’s gateway to the world

On both sides of the Nieuwe Maas stretches the second largest city in the Netherlands – Rotterdam.
The skyline of Rotterdam is spectacular. Buildings such as the Erasmus Bridge shape the image of the city. Without a doubt, the city is one of the most exciting architectural squares in the world.

In a place where space is constantly being created for new development, the scene is alive. The atmosphere and character of the city are shaped above all by its harbour. For over 40 years, people have built this city from nothing and are still changing the cityscape.

Imposing buildings, idyllic as well as green squares and a hip atmosphere – the port city inspires with an endless variety.

Rotterdam – The Manhattan on the Meuse

Rotterdam, Kubuswoningen
The Kobuswoningen in Rotterdam, Image: cla78 / shutterstock

Rotterdam, the city that was completely destroyed by German air raids in 1940 and was on the verge of total devastation, has fought back with all its might.

“Rotterodamum” was built around 1240 and received town rights in 1340. As early as the 17th century, it developed into the second most important trading city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam . The beginning of the actual ascent was marked by the canal connections to the Meuse and Rhine and the construction of the “Nieuw-Waterweg” in 1866.

After the destruction of the Second World War, a modern and industry-free city centre with wide shopping streets and imposing buildings was created as part of the reconstruction.
In Rotterdam, creative people change the cityscape day by day. Architecturally, almost everything is allowed. The architecture capital of the Netherlands is full of surprises. Excellent examples of the special architecture are the Café de Unie in avant-garde garb and the picturesque harbour district Delf, which embodies the style of the early 20th century. Meanwhile, the Willems Bridge impresses with its striking similarity to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The oldest district of the city is Delémont. It invites you to linger with rustic places. If you like it modern, visit Koopgoot, the famous shopping street – dominated by the tower of Rotterdam’s World Trade Centre.

In addition to the university and college, Rotterdam has numerous research institutes, picture galleries, important museums and a modern congress centre.

Treasures of an art and cultural stronghold – when works of art grow from ruins

Rotterdam, Erasmus Bridge
The Erasmus Bridge, Image: DR Travel Photo and Video / shutterstock

The Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge), which characterises the cityscape in particular, is affectionately called “de Zwaan” (Swan) by the inhabitants. It was opened in 1996.

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The best view of the city and the harbour is undoubtedly from the Euromast. The 185-metre-high observation tower was erected in 1960 in just 23 days. From up here, it becomes clear how diverse the architecture of Rotterdam is. On a clear day, you can even see the North Sea . On nice days, the tower falls into the firm hands of adventurers. If you like, you can view the city from the air. From the visitor platform, it then goes 100 meters into the depths. The exciting abseiling is possible from May to September.

Once at the bottom, visitors board so-called Spido boats. With the yellow-and-black speedsters, visitors discover all the important places in the harbour on a round trip. The small taxis share the waterway with freighters and mighty cruise ships. Soon it becomes romantic, because the historic ferry port is extremely idyllic. Time seems to have stood still here. Once upon a time, the port barons, rich shipowners and well-heeled merchants were at home here.

The port of Rotterdam has always been the starting point for trips all over the world. The industrial port has moved further and further towards the North Sea. It stretches over 40 kilometers. This makes it the largest port in Europe and the third largest in the world.

With its skyscrapers, the Wilheminapier peninsula stands for modern, modern-day Rotterdam. Well-known architects have created groundbreaking buildings here.

Rotterdam, Delfshaven
The historic district of Delfshaven, Image: Travel Addicts / shutterstock

An impressive contrast to this is the Witte de Withstraat with its historic houses, quaint cafés and alternative shops. The district was hardly destroyed in the devastating bombing raid by the Germans, in contrast to the rest of the city center. In the Witte de Withstraat you will meet cultures from very different countries. Living together always brings culinary surprises.

The small shipyard in the oldest harbour area is worth seeing. In the middle of the city, ships are still being repaired. Just opposite are the award-winning cube houses, which stand like treetops on their concrete trunks. The fascinating building from the 70s inspires all along the line.

Much of Rotterdam can be reached on foot. The city centre is manageable, especially where old and new combine. This becomes clear with the town hall, which survived the bombing, and the futuristic building by Rem Koolhaas. He skilfully planned the extension to the town hall and at the same time integrated attractive apartments.

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Also worth seeing is the “Luftweg”, a pedestrian bridge made of 17000 wooden planks with the names of the people who made this construction possible. It stretches imposingly over roads and railway tracks.

Rotterdam is exciting everywhere. The area around the new market hall is particularly popular. If you are tired from sightseeing or shopping, you can rest in front of a great backdrop. From the front, the market hall looks like an oversized horseshoe. On the ceiling, a huge painting, including exotic fruits, delicious cheeses and many food, enveloped in pleasant scents. A stroll through the market hall is a real experience. Queen Maxima opened it in 2014.

Rotterdam at night
Rotterdam at night, Image: mihaiulia / shutterstock

All in one: A museum park, the archive and a creative meeting place form the impressive museum landscape with changing exhibitions on industry, science and politics. If you want to experience what increasing age feels like, you can feel it here.

Miraculously, the Laurentius Church survived the bombing of 1940. The neo-Romanesque church building is well worth seeing. In the small harbour at their feet, children can test their seafaring skills.

After the war, Rotterdam was a field of experimentation for architects with high standards.
The people of Rotterdam are proud of their architecture. It can be explored like an open-air museum. One of the new landmarks is the main train station, which is flanked by skyscrapers. The building with its roof over the tracks is one of the most recent sights. The peaks visible in the roof point the way to the city centre. During the design, attention was paid to the preservation of historical elements.

The Kunsthalle of Rem Koohhaas is also an eye-catcher. He designed it over 25 years ago. It is one of his most important projects.

Trendy bars and restaurants in the charm of Rotterdam

An aging high-rise building was actually supposed to be demolished. Alternative groups have occupied it and created a creative center with a bistro and a great roof garden. From “Op het Dak” there is a magnificent view over the city. The restaurant offers only vegetarian dishes with fresh ingredients from its own garden.

Hofpleine: What you wouldn’t suspect at first – there are many surprises hidden under the disused railway tracks. For example, the FG – a 2-star restaurant by François Geurds. The chef of the restaurant surprises with unusual creations, both visually and in terms of taste.

In the evening, we recommend a culinary excursion to the Witte de Withstraat. The countless bars and restaurants are lively and there are delicacies from all over the world.

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