Tourists are attracted by examples of architecture and art created using modern technology, and there are plenty of them in the city. The sights of Rotterdam with photos and descriptions posted in guidebooks do not give a complete picture of the beauty and originality. Only after seeing them in person does one understand the scale of the idea and craftsmanship. About 4 mn. of tourists every year are eager to see Rotterdam and its wonders.
History of Rotterdam
Rotterdam was named a city in 1340, and since then it has been developing rapidly, turning a small village on the banks of the Rotte River into the second most important metropolis in the Netherlands. It ceded its global lead in size to Shanghai in 2004, but it remains the largest port in Europe, and still carries a heavy traffic load, receiving merchant ships from many countries.
With the introduction of the Nieuwe-Waterweg canal in the 19th century, it is recognized as the largest harbor in the world. Over time, the old fortress walls were dismantled and the city began to expand rapidly. Its dynamic development has turned it into a center of modern architecture and avant-garde art.
There are almost no old buildings with centuries of history left in the city. The Spanish looting in the 16th century and the carpet bombing during World War II had an impact.
Top 8 attractions in Rotterdam
A unique atmosphere of creativity envelops the city, it is constantly in motion and even the buildings resemble a stopped in time moment. This is especially evident in the architectural design of the train station building. Outwardly it resembles a wing, inside it combines the functions of a transport hub, a shopping center with food outlets and recreational areas. Glass and wood are the main materials, and the lighting is provided by built-in solar panels.
The city can be viewed almost in its entirety by climbing up to the observation deck of the Euromast. From a height of 180 meters you have a panoramic view of residential areas, shopping centers, part of the harbor and suggest what else to see in Rotterdam. Two restaurants inside the site serve European and national cuisine. For extreme climbers prepared climbing equipment, with which they are invited to go down.
The best way to get from the southern part of the city to the north is by the bridge, named after Erasmus of Rotterdam. It was erected according to the project of B. van Berkel in 1996. For the smooth curved forms of supporting structures bridge called “Swan”.
St. Laurentskirk Cathedral was partially destroyed during World War II. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to see it again in all its glory. According to the drawings it was possible to restore the walls and tower, but during the reconstruction the unity of style was broken and the cathedral makes an ambiguous impression. The tombs of generals Witte de Witt and Henry Roosevelt have survived. In memory of the former greatness of the building were left three organs that still sound under the arches, delighting music lovers. Most people come to the church on Christmas Eve.
The tower is reopened to the public from April through early September. Since 2010, the chapel has had exhibits with digital applications. They display old documents, photographs, sketches, and drawings. The virtual guide allows you to listen to ancient canons, study in detail a part of the interior or an individual detail, and immerse yourself in history. The route and the amount of information each visitor chooses for themselves.
A block of old Dutch houses miraculously survived the war. The district of Delfshaven attracts with its distinctive identity, the special charm of antiquity. There are antique shops, restaurants, pubs, and historic buildings. The area is dotted with canals, on which the small nimble boats scurry, water rides and excursions.
Boijmans van Beuningen Museum
The private collection of Judge Boymans, who bequeathed it to the city, formed the basis of the museum that bore his name. Later added were canvases donated by collector Daniel Georg van Beuningen. After his death, the entire collection of paintings was moved to the exhibition halls and the museum acquired a double name. The storerooms were regularly replenished by private donations, the museum directors also contributed in kind, and the result was a unique collection of works of art from the Middle Ages to the 21st century.
The gems of the collection are paintings by Rembrandt, Bosch, Peter Rubens and Van Gogh. In addition to Dutch and Flemish masters, there are a few paintings by Salvador Dali.Besides paintings, the exhibition includes engravings, etchings, installations, graphics, sculptures, samples of decorative and applied art.
The constant expansion of the collections with works by contemporary artists necessitated an expansion of exhibition space, and in 1972 another wing was added to house contemporary works, including a minimalist exhibition. A peculiarity of the museum was the chaotic placement of paintings without regard to era or school. As a result, the creations of Dutch artists are juxtaposed with Art Nouveau or Pointillism. Such a presentation of exhibits is perceived in a very peculiar way.
The largest port could not do without a demonstration of its achievements, history and the story of the great people of the past, who are associated with the sea. All this was embodied in the halls, where models of ships, gear, maps, ship’s instruments, logbooks, traditional clothing and household items of sailors are placed. Part of the collection is housed outdoors in the harbor, where 19th-century yachts and ships are moored. Some ships are allowed to be viewed from the inside.
Museum of Ethnography
Its second name is the World. The building was erected for the Royal Yacht Club, and over the decades, many artifacts have accumulated and formed the basis of the collection. In 1883 the museum, later called the Ethnographic Museum, was opened.
Travelers continued to bring from distant countries funny things, jewelry, fabrics, engravings and paintings, samples of arts and crafts.
The collections of the Ethnographic Museum have amassed more than 1,800 items, including jewelry, fabrics, clothing, religious objects, tableware, and figurines from Oceania, Asia, and Africa.
Most of the buildings date from the late 19th century to the present day. The architects invested a lot of imagination in the creation of their works, each of which became a landmark in Rotterdam. The White House, built in the Art Nouveau style, successfully survived the bombing, and during its construction the project of W. Molenbroek. Molenbroek’s design was subjected to merciless criticism.
It was argued that even a pile foundation would not be able to give the building the necessary stability on waterlogged soil. But the building successfully survived the war and is still in excellent condition. Charming turrets, a conical roof and tiered decorations give it a resemblance to a fairy tale castle.
The street of upside-down houses knocks you out of your usual worldview at first. It is difficult to realize that these cubes, turned on one facet, are actually inhabited. According to the project Pit Blom built 38 houses, the interior space is small, the rooms are in the form of pyramids, triangles, rhombuses. Such housing is available only to very wealthy residents. The houses are so popular with tourists that it was very profitable to turn one of them into a museum and give everyone the opportunity to get inside, trying on the reality of the inhabitants of such apartments.
A unique opportunity is available to residents of the Markthal complex. It has everything you need to live: apartments, retail outlets, and a great market with a dozen varieties of plain tomatoes. On the shelves there are hundreds of spices, products from all over the world, it is fashionable to buy any rare ingredient for the most exquisite dishes.
Among the attractions of Rotterdam one of the main is the village of windmills. It is listed by UNESCO as a monument to skillful cooperation with nature. The village consists of 19 mills built in the 18th century. They carried a double load: they ground flour and pumped water from the canals to the tanks and back again as needed. The mills work, many of them are inhabited, two of them are given to the museum. It is not possible to drive on the territory. There are only pedestrian and bicycle paths.
In the winter, it’s amazing to see entire families, including babies and the elderly, sliding along the frozen canals. The mills on both banks of the canal look shyly into the icy mirror, waiting for spring. With the first warm days here again rushes of tourists, looking with amazement at the living evidence of bygone eras.
Children and adults are interested in visiting the large animal park. The spacious aviaries, more like miniature islands of jungle, steppe or savannah, contain many endangered species. Children can hardly be distracted from looking at the flocks of bright tropical fish in the aquariums of the oceanarium. Perhaps only with the promise of an amazing spectacle in the butterfly pavilion, where the atmosphere of the Amazon forest is recreated.
For the rest of the visitors created a cozy park with small cafes, comfortable benches, souvenir pavilions and a playground for children. You can spend a whole day in the zoo without noticing the time that flashed by.
When you come to Rotterdam, the list of things to see is completed by the Trompenburg Arboretum Park. Division into zones with artificially created microclimate allowed to grow an amazing collection of plants and create a natural paradise almost in the center of the city. Small neat ponds, tiered flowerbeds, oak and beech groves, rhododendrons and a segment dedicated to succulents attract about 50,000 visitors annually.
Modern and dynamic Rotterdam is harmonious and contradictory at the same time. Its visit will long be remembered with admiration and a feeling of slight nostalgia.