When people think of visiting the Netherlands, they always think about Amsterdam and, possibly, The Hague, but relatively few think about visiting Rotterdam. Each of these cities has their set of attractions with Amsterdam’s museums and canals, and the beach and parks of The Hague, but for my money you can’t beat the variety of what Rotterdam offers! And, as the mystery slide for this week is set in Rotterdam…
The best way to visit Rotterdam is by public transportation; if you’re coming from outside the city, you’ll likely arrive at the central train station, or ‘Centraal Station’. This completely modern transportation hub combines train, street car, bus and metro (subway) in one convenient package. When using public transportation in the Netherlands you’ll want to get get an OV-Chipkaart, which is used for all modes of transportation; as a tourist you can buy an anonymous OV-Chipkaart, which comes preloaded and can be loaded at many check-points using your credit/debit card. Just don’t forget to swipe your card when you get off you disembark!
A unique feature about Rotterdam’s architecture is the presence of skyscrapers in the center of the city. Every other city center in the Netherlands consists of older architecture. This is due to the fact that during the early days of World War II, the center of the city was flattened by German bombs during the so-called Rotterdam Blitz. The notable surviving building from this onslaught is the St. Lawrence Church (St. Laurenskerk), which was damaged, but was restored and still stands proud surrounded by modern architecture.
The center of Rotterdam is well-known for its shopping district that extends along the Coolsingel and the streets surrounding it. As the Dutch love walking in their cities, the center has been set up to minimize the need for crossing the street. An example of this is the Beurstraverse, which is better known as ‘de Koopgoot’ or, literally, the shopping gutter; as you can see, one just walks down the incline and continues shopping at the stores below ground level, as you cross the busy Coolsingel to get to more shops.
As Rotterdam is a major port-city (‘Gateway to Europe’), water is never very far away. As the port has expanded over the years and ships have become larger, some of the old harbors are no longer used for shipping, such as the Delftsevaart above. They have either been filled in to make room for building or preserved as picturesque living areas right in the center of the city.
Hope you enjoyed this little overview of the city of my birth!