Rotterdam is the future… now. After being bombed to smithereens during WWII, the Netherlands’ second-biggest city became a canvas for visionary architects like Rem Koolhaas. The end result is a laboratory of experimental buildings fringed by this historic city’s surviving heritage. Early 2016 sees yet another new opening – the Museum Rotterdam inside the Koolhaas-designed Timmerhuis – and later in the year Eurostar services between London and Amsterdam will start stopping at Europe’s busiest port. With award winning architecture also hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, attractions, sports and cultural events, museums and business locations grew in offer and number to make Rotterdam a very interesting city for both business and leisure.
More and more tourists are coming to Rotterdam. They experience the city’s buzz. They get to know the character of Rotterdam people and enjoy the city’s wealth of leisure opportunities.
Future of Rotterdam
‘We’re from Rotterdam, we’ll keep going’ appeared on a placard just days after the city was devastated by aerial bombing on 14 May 1940. This resolute motto in many ways typifies the character of Rotterdam and its inhabitants. It explains how a buzzing metropolis was built literally on the post-blitz ruins. The port city, where nowadays around 170 different nationalities help create an open and cosmopolitan atmosphere. And where the resolute perseverance of Rotterdam people still motors the city’s continual push for innovation.
Rotterdam is synonymous with innovation, whether it is in architecture, the creative sector or the port. It is often a trendsetter. Just think of the Maasvlakte II project, extending the port into the sea, and of the architectural tours de force in the Kop van Zuid district. The city on the Maas is home to many leading architectural practices, including Rem Koolhaas’ OMA and the MVRDV and ZUS practices. Rotterdam’s universities, educational institutes and knowledge centres, including the flagship Erasmus University, have an international reputation for high-quality research and education.
World Port World City
The port remains an integral part of Rotterdam. This is a given after more than 400 years of trade and shipping success. Rotterdam, World Port World City, has Europe’s largest port which makes it the gateway to the European mainland. A staggering 450 million tons of goods are transferred through the port of Rotterdam each year, serving the needs of about 350 million consumers.
Future innovative projects
Rotterdam never sleeps, there is always something going on. Some new projects are:
* Floating farm: Floating Farm is a stable production farm where they produce daily fresh dairy products, but also a high-tech living lab where several Dutch technology partners research a better food production process, waste and water treatment. They actively research the production of Fodder for the cows and research the treatment of urine (nutrients) and manure to other products or energy-production.
* Bobbing forest: The Bobbing Forest will be made mostly from pre-existing materials. Twenty old sea buoys from the North Sea will be provided by Rijkswaterstaat, the agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. These sea buoys will be made suitable for carrying living trees and displaying their seasonal beauty on the water. The trees will be donated by the Bomendepot, a tree storage facility of the Municipality of Rotterdam. Each time a part of the city is renovated, trees have to be moved. In the past, these trees would have been destroyed; nowadays, however, the city’s Public Works Department stores them at the Bomendepot until a new destination is found. Trees also contribute to a more sustainable city and help the municipality achieve its climate goals.
Today’s Rotterdam is a young, multifaceted and dynamic town. A breeding ground for creativity. Home to Europe’s largest port. Trendsetter in lots of areas. In short, there is always something to experience in Rotterdam. It is a city that is booming, buzzing and is never boring. Where there is space for everyone. And where the sky really is the limit.
Rotterdam – City of Architecture
Rotterdam is a trailblazer where architecture is concerned. The city is internationally well-known for its daring modern buildings. The most celebrated champion of this city-wide trend is architect Rem Koolhaas and his OMA practice. His design of the Netherlands’ largest building, De Rotterdam, proved a sensation at home and abroad. De Rotterdam was completed in 2013 and is a complete town within the city: the three towers house luxury apartments, a hotel, offices and, at ground level, bars and restaurants which command wonderful views across the river Maas. It is a powerful statement about Rotterdam, confirming that it continues to be a vibrant, growing metropolis.
The one and only Markthal
Two other recent architectural highpoints, the Markthal and the new Rotterdam Central railway station can be found on the other side of the river Maas. The Markthal has what for the Netherlands is a unique mix of homes, a daily market and restaurants and bars: on the market floor, there are 100 high-end stalls selling fresh produce, while the enormous arch covering the market houses luxury apartments. The inside of the arch is decorated with the mural, Horn of Plenty, by Arno Coenen. Its immense size, 11,000 square metres, makes it the Netherlands’ largest work of art and has already led to its being dubbed Rotterdam’s Sistine Chapel.
Rotterdam’s new main railway station, Rotterdam Central, can rightly be called the city’s visiting card. The entrance concourse is spacious and has a façade completely made of glass which provides lots of light. The concourse and the 30-metre-wide transit area for passengers ensure visitors experience a convenient and modern gateway to the city. The stainless-steel roof is also a striking sight. The new building, though, also has an eye for the past. The two sculptures which decorated the wings of the old station now mark either end of the cycle tunnel under the new Rotterdam Central. The old station’s name sign with its characteristic lettering has also been given a place and can now be seen on the south side of the new building.
Rotterdam has a lot to offer besides its ultra-modern architecture. Outstanding pre-war buildings include the City Hall, Het Witte Huis (The White House – Europe’s first ‘skyscraper’), the Saint Lawrence church and the 17th-century Schielandshuis building, while innovative 20th-century architecture is represented by works such as the Van Nelle Factory, the famous cube houses by Piet Blom, the Euromast observation tower and the Erasmus Bridge by Ben van Berkel. The New Orleans and the Maastoren skyscrapers were built in the 21st century. They are respectively the tallest apartment block and tallest office block in the Netherlands.
The Van Nelle Factory, by the architects Brinkman and Van der Vlugt, is a textbook example of the functionalist ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’ (New Construction) style and was awarded a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.
Rotterdam’s diverse architectural trends and developments are regularly reported in the international media. The New York Times put the city in tenth place on its 2014 ‘52 Places to Go’ list, citing Rotterdam’s “first class architecture”. The Rough Guide also had architecture in mind when it advised its readers to visit Rotterdam. Recently Rotterdam was named 5th city ‘Best in Travel 2016’ by Lonely Planet and Best European City by the British Academy of Urbanism!
Rotterdam’s wealth of leisure opportunities
Rotterdam never sleeps, there is always something going on. Every year, new, original festivals are launched. New restaurants, food markets, bars, coffee bars and clubs are opening at exciting locations all the time. Leading museums and art institutions, such as the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Kunsthal and Dutch Photo Museum Rotterdam, continue to attract attention with high-profile exhibitions. And also the range of shopping opportunities grow day by day, from famous international fashion stores to cool design shops selling products produced locally.
Accessibility of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is really easy to get to from abroad by plane, train, sea, bus and car. The city has its own airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport. There are enough free bus parking places in Rotterdam city centre if you are touring around by coach.
Accessibility by air
Rotterdam is very easy to get to by plane from 317 cities in 104 countries via Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Airport:
Road and rail links between Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam are excellent. It takes just 27 minutes to travel by Thalys or Intercity Direct trains from the airport to the city’s international gateway, Rotterdam Central Station. Flights from Rotterdam The Hague Airport serve 40 European destinations. The airport is just 15 minutes by taxi or car from the centre of Rotterdam. The journey takes 20 to 25 minutes by public transport, using RandstadRail and the Airport Shuttle Bus 50 or bus 33.
Accessibility by train
It is also easy to get to Rotterdam by train. High-speed trains such as the Thalys and Intercity Direct, formerly Fyra, stop at Rotterdam Central Station, as do many Dutch domestic intercity trains.
Accessibility by sea
There are good ferry services between Rotterdam and Great Britain. Stena Line vessels sail from Harwich to Hook of Holland which is just a 30 minutes’ journey from Rotterdam. P&O Ferries sail from Hull to Rotterdam Europoort where a De Jong Tours bus is waiting to take you directly to Rotterdam.
Accessibility by road
Rotterdam is easy to get to by car or bus from every direction: the city is surrounded by a good network of major roads and there are convenient Park & Ride points.
Parking in Rotterdam
There are dozens of public car parks in Rotterdam. Most of them allow you to pay in various ways e.g. with cash, by bank or credit card.
Park & Ride points
Park & Ride points are on the edge of the city and allow motorists to park, often free of charge, and continue their journey by public transport. You need a public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) to do this.
‘Pay and Display’ with registration number
It is likely that on-street parking will require use of a payment and registration machine situated in the vicinity. The motorist has to key in the registration number of the vehicle, decide how long it will be parked for and then pay with a bank or credit card. No ticket needs to be displayed in the vehicle itself.
Parking payment via mobile phone
Paying for a parking place can also be done via a mobile phone if the motorist is registered with one of the five providers of the mobile parking service (06-parkeren): ANWB Parkeren, Sms-parking, Yellowbrick, Parkmobile and Park-line.
It is easy to travel around Rotterdam itself by bus, tram, metro or water taxi. Rotterdam’s public transport company is called the RET. You will need a public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) to use the RET’s metro, tram or bus services. The chip cards can be bought at sale and information points and top-up payment machines at metro stations, but also at other sale points e.g. at post offices, Primera shops, Rotterdam Info (the city promotion centre) and via ov-chipkaart.nl/webwinkel.
Besides public transport, there are also lots of taxi stands, where taxis (cars, cycle-rickshaws and tuktuks) wait for customers.
Rotterdam City Centre Areas
Rotterdam’s Central District is the gateway to the city and home to many international companies and multinationals. The area buzzes with a constant stream of people coming and going, which can make you think of New York. A hive of activity. Rotterdam Central railway station is the Central District’s new landmark.
West-Kruiskade is a long shopping street in the centre of Rotterdam with shops representing every corner of the world, from Chinese to Surinamese shops selling everything under the sun and from Dutch butcher’s to Turkish baker’s shops. Its many multicultural restaurants and snack bars make it the ideal place to find an exotic bite to eat. The area is often referred to as China Town because of its many Asian residents and companies.
Modern and classic go together in the Maurits Quarter whether you are talking fashion, architecture or culture. Its elegant, high-end fashion shops and charming little restaurants give this area a bit of Parisian chic, but modern high-rise Rotterdam is never very far away.
In 1954, the Lijnbaan road was Europe’s first pedestrian-only shopping street. Now, 60 years on, it is still at the heart of Rotterdam shopping, together with the Beurstraverse and Koopgoot area. The neighbourhood also has lots of restaurants, cafés and bars.
The overriding image of the Laurens Quarter is of the Medieval church of Saint Lawrence at one end and the ultra-modern Markthal building at the other. With plans for a public park on the Binnenrotte road, the Laurenskwartier looks set to become a modern hip place to go out. This can only be helped by the area’s trendy fashion and design shops, hip bars and restaurants.
Rotterdam’s waterfront is famed for its small harbours. The Oude Haven harbour is by far and away the most popular of these. For 25 years, it has been the perfect place for a bite to eat and a drink by the water with a view out onto the many old-fashioned ships.
Kop van Zuid & Katendrecht
The Kop van Zuid district was once a busy peninsula in the port. Nowadays, following a complete makeover, the area has an international feel and is a place where people go out to have fun. Culture and cuisine are the dominant two forces in today’s Kop van Zuid. The restaurants in nearby Deliplein square in the Katendrecht neighbourhood are also recommended.
Rotterdam’s maritime history is everywhere to be seen in the romantic Scheepvaart Quarter. The area is today mostly known for its restaurants, cafés and bars. One favourite location is a converted 1894 warehouse complex, the Westelijk Handelsterrein site.
The Museum Quarter is a dynamic area where lots of museums, art institutions and galleries are based. The very streets here have a cultural feel about them as if creative innovation is never far away. This is especially true of the Witte de Withstraat road which is also a popular destination for people going out and is busy into the early hours of the morning.
Years ago, ships set sail for the Far East from the Lloyd Quarter. Nowadays, it is mostly a place for apartments and business premises, with magnificent views over the nearby river Maas. The mix of modern high-rise developments and renovated warehouses makes the Lloyd Quarter feel like one of the most ‘modern’ areas of Rotterdam.
It has gone down in the history books as the place from where the Pilgrim Fathers set off for America and the birthplace of the Dutch seafaring hero, Piet Hein. This historic part of Rotterdam, with its old canals and buildings, is now a favourite tourist haunt.
History of Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s history began around the site of today’s Binnenrotte street. It was here that a dam was built on the river Rotte about the year 1270 and a small fishing village was created. Trade and shipping flourished, causing ‘Rotterdam’ to grow quickly. Between 1866 and 1872, the Nieuwe Waterweg canal was constructed to improve Rotterdam’s accessibility from the sea and the city became a real international hub. On 14 May 1940, during the Second World War, practically the whole of the old city centre was destroyed in the Rotterdam blitz. As a memorial to the disaster, special red street lighting marks the extent of the devastating fire which followed the bombardment.
The people of Rotterdam rolled up their sleeves and got to work: two weeks after the war, they began the process of reconstruction. The city had the courage to radically break with the past and made a daring choice for spacious town planning and modern architecture. The keynote was light, air and space. Rotterdam has remained a trendsetter to this day, ensuring that the city keeps its ultra-modern feel. The desire to go for innovation is still typical of the people of Rotterdam. The city’s skyline is praised throughout the world as a paean to modern architecture.
Facts and figures of Rotterdam
* With over 600,000 residents, Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands.
* Most populair event is ANB AMRO Marathon Rotterdam with 930.000 visitors.
* Most populair attraction is Rotterdam Zoo with ca. 1,5 million visitors.
* It was founded in 1270 and was granted city rights in 1340.
* The worst disaster to befall the city took place on 14 May 1940. On that Tuesday during the first year of the Second World War, practically the whole of Rotterdam’s old city centre was destroyed in the Rotterdam blitz.
* The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.
* The port stretches 40 kilometres out from the city towards the North Sea, along the reclaimed land of the Maasvlakte I and Maasvlakte II port-expansion projects.
Best of Rotterdam to do
– Get on top of the Euromast Rotterdam
– Visit the beautiful Zoo Blijdorp
– Check the exhibitions at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
– Enjoy a port view with a Rotterdam beer at Fenix Food Factory
– Feel free at Arboretum Trompenburg
– Discover the World at Wereldmuseum
– Sonneveld House
– Dutch Photomuseum at Kop van Zuid
– Family and attraction park Plaswijck
– Art at the Kunsthal
– Experience the port of Rotterdam with Spido
– Futureland Maasvlakte 2
– Natural History Museum at Museum Park
Best of Rotterdam to see
– Rotterdam Central Station
– Largest Markthal with biggest painted ceiling
– Historical Old Harbour or Delfs Harbour
– A terrace with a view in De Rotterdam
– Strange Cube-Houses
Best of Rotterdam to go
– Witte de Withstraat
– Markthal Rotterdam
– The Park at the Euromast
– Feyenoord Stadion (De Kuip)
– Take a tour at (Steam Ship) SS Rotterdam
– Shopping at the Meent, Koopgoot, Lijnbaan, Van Oldenbarneveltstraat, Oude Binnenweg and Nieuwe Binnenweg
More information about this energetic and beautiful city?
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