After being in the Netherlands for just over a month, I realize I need to see more than just the city of Arnhem. So what did I do? I organized a trip to Rotterdam on the weekend of Saturday, March 5 because my friend Safon had recently visited there and Den Haag (The Hague). I got jealous because he had visited two prominent cities in the Netherlands that I had not yet taken advantage of. I saw his pictures on Facebook and was amazed by the city’s beautiful architecture that was awaiting my visit. Besides, I do have quite a bit of free time, especially on weekends, and next month I may not have as much time to travel because I will write a couple of exams and papers to finish the first period of my exchange.
Before you scroll down and see my awesome pictures, I would like to highlight some key points about this marvellous city I have taken the time to research on my own.
Rotterdam is known for its large port. It became an important part of its history in the 17th century when trade with neighbouring countries was beginning to flourish. In 1863, the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg, a ship canal from Rotterdam, went underway to connect with the North Sea from the Hook of Holland, a small port town in the southwestern corner of Holland. This waterway was needed because the city was growing quite rapidly in terms of trade, population, and employment opportunities. The channel was completed in 1872, and from the Hook of Holland it is 20.5km long with a depth of 14.5 to 16 metres.
During World War II, most of the city centre was destroyed by the German army invasion Luftwaffe (air force) on May 14, 1940, also known as the Rotterdam Blitz. The main goal for this attack was to break the Dutch resistance and force the nation to surrender. Most of the large fires from the bombardment were not fully extinguished until two days after the Blitz. As a result, 884 people died and thousands became homeless.
This destruction changed Rotterdam forever, but it is now one of the most important cities in the Randstad region of the Netherlands. The Randstad is the green heart of the Netherlands because this is where the highest amount of GDP (gross domestic product) is earned. The city’s reconstruction has been influenced by the modernist and functionalist architects of the post-war period. As you will see in pictures to come, it is hard to believe that a city struck with war could recover so fast up until the beginning of the 21st century. Sure, you might say it looks like a city you would see in North America, but in comparison with the other Dutch cities, it is definitely the most modern, upscale, and highly developed city’s in the country. Now that might sound a little bit biased because I haven’t visited all the other major cities in the Netherlands (except for Amsterdam which I visited last weekend), but it had a different cultural atmosphere. I felt as if I was in a completely different country because it did not have that old Dutch feel to it.
Today, the Port of Rotterdam is actually one of the biggest ports in Europe, with a distance of 40km. Thousands of sea and inland vessels visit this port every year, and the largest commodity throughput is crude oil.
If you are one of those history guru’s who wants to know more about the Battle of the Netherlands of 1940, check out this video for a more in-depth description! (Please note it is quite long)
We lucked out with the weather in Rotterdam because it was sunny the entire day we were there.
The Centraal Station is beautiful. It was completed in 2014 and most definitely depicts the city’s highly modern atmosphere.
How would you like to live in one of those apartment buildings?
I took these pictures when we were strolling into town from the Centraal Station. There were some interesting sculptures and a floating tree…
The guys forgot their sunglasses so we head into the city centre to find some shops. I came across a “TK-Maxx”, also known as TJ-Maxx or Marshalls in the States or Winners, Homesense or Marshalls in Canada. Cool!
Interesting statue of a dog with poo. The Dutch definitely have an odd sense of humour!
After walking through some of the city centre we made our way to a harbour to get a glimpse of the Erasmusburg (shown below).
This bridge is the most notable symbol of Rotterdam and it was completed in 1996. It has the nickname The Swan because of its asymmetrical shape (with a height of 456ft), and is the second largest bridge in the Netherlands. One of the unique features of the Erasmusbrug is that near the southernmost part, it is actually a bascule bridge in which it raises up for ships to pass underneath. Cool huh?
Unfortunately we did not cross the river to the other side of the city, but I am sure it is just as beautiful!
These pictures are only of one small section of the massive port this city has to offer. Since we decided to walk around the city all day, we did not have a chance to see the entire city, but I hope to visit again when my mother comes to visit in May.
I can’t wait until spring is in full fling here in the Netherlands. The trees and flowers will make these cities look even more spectacular!
The Euromast is another landmark in Rotterdam. It was built in 1960, and the word Euro is derived from the fact that Rotterdam is in the heart of the Euro market zone. It looks almost similar to the Calgary Tower.
Unfortunately we did not ascend to the top of the tower because some people in the group refused to pay 8 euros. Cheap bastards! It’s okay, I still love you guys.
The end of our day in Rotterdam consisted of visiting the incredible Cube Houses and the Markthal. The Cube Houses are another iconic skeptical you must see when visiting Rotterdam. They were designed by Piet Blom in 1984 and they represent a tree in which the houses are combined to make a “wood”. His design depicts a “safe haven” village in the middle of the city. There are 40 houses in total, and they are tilted at a 45 degree angle.
We had the opportunity to visit the interior of one of the show houses. They do not fit the typical conventional living arrangement you would see in a normal house, so they are quite odd. I also realized that you are in very close living quarters with neighbours, and some of the windows have to be covered by curtains or sheets because you can look directly into someone else’s room.
You can actually stay in one of these for the duration of your stay in Holland. There is a hostel and AirBnB (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/817858). Check out the interior pictures from the link because I was too mesmerized by it that I forgot to take pictures! However, the one we visited was not as nice as the one listed on AirBnB.
The Markthal in Rotterdam is the first indoor market here in the Netherlands. However, unlike the market here in Arnhem, this is a very commercialized version so some products were a little bit more expensive. It also features 228 apartments and some office spaces above the market hall, as well as some incredible ceiling artwork you can see from down below.
That concluded our trip to Rotterdam. My next blog will include my visit to Amsterdam (from last weekend) and likely more food porn you can salivate over. I apologize for making you wait 2 weeks for this entry, I am approaching the end of the first period in my semester here, so I have been a little caught up with my studies and other sporadic adventures.
Couvreur. (n.d.). Rotterdam’s history in a nutshell. Retrieved from https://couvreur.home.xs4all.nl/engl/rdam/history.htm
Erasmusburg raised photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/2008-07_erasmusbr%C3%BCcke_hoch.JPG
LandmarkScout. (2016, January 07). Rotterdam Blitz, a city on fire-Netherlands [image]. Retrieved from http://www.landmarkscout.com/rotterdam-blitz-a-city-on-fire-netherlands/
Markthal photo: http://api.ning.com/files/cGEsfZahF3ukHs5EnHwcNO8edDfpEuymZfdWUZaLeR2sabHKtiLLuoOGJ4HQnj8Fk89MztKrnIq3R39uGxYYvUXlw-qIIY8d/MarkthallenRotterdam.jpg
Port of Rotterdam. (n.d.). Facts and figures about the port. Retrieved from https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/the-port/facts-figures-about-the-port