Being between Germany and the UK, the Netherlands was a strategic position that both the Allies and the Axis wanted to control during the Second World War. Since the Netherlands had decided to remain neutral like it had been during the First World War, the German military believed that the Netherlands would be an easy target. That was not the case and the battle for Rotterdam lasted several days.
The story goes that during this battle, a German general told Rotterdam to either surrender or the German army will blow up the entire city. The Dutch colonel refused to surrender and stalled for more time. The second time that the German army gave the Dutch the ultimatum, the Dutch colonel was ready to surrender. The messenger had however given the wrong time and the German army flattened the city minutes before news of surrender would have reached the German army. For this reason, the vast majority of the city buildings date from the late 20th century. When deciding how to rebuild, the city opted to breath fresh life into the city with new building designs.
Known for its eclectic architecture, Rotterdam is definitely a unique destination to visit!
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Designed in 1977 by Piet Blom, these unconventional buildings are called
Kubuswoningen (or cube houses). The idea behind these houses was urban living; he wanted to optimize space and make them look like trees in a forest, with the cube as the foliage and the pylon as the stump.
The goal of this architecture was to build 55 such houses in order to give the outside viewer the impression that this complex is an urban forest. In the end, only 39 houses were built, with one of those houses serving as a museum for the curious souls.
Once inside, the main concern is bringing in the natural light and finding clever ways to use the space.
The top of the cube even features a chill out space with almost a 360-degree view.
Lovingly referred to as the air conditioning unit, this building was designed by Van den Broek and built in 1983. Today it houses Rotterdam's Central Library. Some compare it to the Centre de Pompidou in Paris.
The Markthal faces Rotterdam's Central Library. This horseshoe-shaped building features a covered market hall on the ground floor with luxury housing in the actual structure.
The inside of the horseshoe is painted by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. Because of the extensive painting job, some compare this building to the Sistine Chapel.
The statue located in the
(or big church square) is of the most famous Rotterdamer: Desiderius Erasmus. Born in c. 1466, Erasmus imagined a better Europe without borders. This is one of the reasons why the study abroad semesters in Europe are referred to as Erasmus semesters and why so many study abroad programs and scholarships are named after this great thinker. Erasmus is quoted with having said: " The whole world is your fatherland."
Erected in 1622, this statue has had an interesting history. Before building this statue in bronze, many other attempts were made to create an Erasmus statue but the statue was either destroyed or it was never finished. This one, designed by Hendrick de Keyser, was finished and stands to this day in the square. During the Second World War, it was even buried in the Boymans' Museum to avoid its destruction by the German army. It is said that the people who hid the statue forgot about it for 14 years, at which point it was dug back out and placed on its pedestal in the square.
Given that Erasmus believed that churches should not dictate what you do, it is slightly ironic that his statue is placed in front of the only church that survived the bombings during the Second World War.
Not too far from the bronze statue is located yet another homage to the great Erasmus. This one is located on Eramus' birthplace and features all of the thinker's most important quotes on Delft blue tiles.
If you search "Rotterdam Second World War" online, you will get multiple views of the same reality: Rotterdam flattened by German bombs. In all of those pictures, only a handful of buildings remain standing: this church being one of them. Built between 1449 and 1525, the
Laurenskerk, or Church of St. Lawrence, is one of the few surviving Gothic buildings in the city. While it escaped most of the damage, there were still calls to demolish it and start over. Thanks to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, the church was preserved. Today, the church hold Friday evening disco parties for singles over 40.
Rotterdam's City Hall is another of the buildings to have survived the 1940 bombing. The building features three flags: that of the EU, the Netherlands and Rotterdam (from left to right).
If you look further up, you will see a statue of a golden woman. It is said to be the golden whore who reminds everyone that sex always comes before politics.
In the rose garden within City Hall, there are two statues that remind visitors of the origins of the city. The statue on the left is of Neptune...
while the statue on the right is of Mercury. The city of Rotterdam first began as a fishermen's village in c. 1270. Thus, Neptune represents the water while Mercury represents the trade of this early settlement.
This statue has been in Rotterdam's city hall almost since its opening in 1920. It was a gift from Amsterdam in 1921 to celebrate its opening. The sculpture represents all the human struggles throughout time.
To get a more detailed description of all of the pieces of art and architecture in and on City Hall, feel free to
. explore this pamphlet
Stronger through struggle, this sculpture represents Goliath's struggle with evil. The defeated eagle represents fallen Germany. Gifted to City Hall by Queen Wilhelmina after the Second World War, the sculpture was created by J.H. Hans and weighs about 6 ton. The sculpture weighs so much that the floor of the town hall had to be reinforced with a pillar to support the weight.
In contrast to Goliath, in front of City Hall stands a dark, unpolished sculpture depicting the pain caused by the tearing apart of families due to the war effort of the 1940s.
Pauluskerk (or St. Paul's Church) is a unique center where all homeless people and addicts can come get help. It started its efforts in the 1980s when it helped heroin addicts overcome their addiction with the help of methadone (a substance that was illegal at the time). It has since expanded its operations to help asylum seekers and unemployed persons.
A very typical, quaint marina for the Netherlands
Bikes can be found all over the city just like anywhere else in the beautiful country of the Netherlands
Known as the Swan, this 800-meter long suspension bridge is named the Erasmus Bridge. It connects the northern and southern parts of the city together.