After a great three days in Amsterdam, Noah and I wanted to take a day trip to another city in the Netherlands. Rotterdam was an easy day trip and offered some interesting sights related to architecture, so we thought this would be the perfect destination! Trains from Amsterdam to Rotterdam run frequently, so getting there from the Amsterdam Centraal Station wasn’t too much trouble. Unfortunately, the express train we had planned to take was cancelled (surprise surprise!), but the local train only took about 15 minutes longer, so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.
Rotterdam is known for its unusual and modern architecture. The city was basically entirely destroyed in World War II, so the entire landscape shows a very ‘new’ look, and it seems that the remodel opportunity was used to have some architectural fun. Architecture is an interest of Noah’s, so he was especially excited to see the city. We used an app (Rotterdam Info) to guide us on an architecture walk through the city.
The first stop…Rotterdam’s Centraal Station – this was easy since our train from Amsterdam arrived there!
Rotterdam’s main train station, this building was revamped and reopened to the public in March 2014:
Right near the train station were several other interesting buildings including Groot Handelsgebouw, an enormous business center that covers a building block of 720 x 275 ft. Also, this is the style that once symbolized post-war reconstruction in Rotterdam:
Delftse Poort are high-rise office buildings just across the street from Centraal Station that immediately give the city a metropolitan feel. These buildings are an imposing 495 ft. tall and have a mirrored facade:
De Calypso is a colorful building with sloping walls. Inside are apartments, offices, shops, and, naturally, parking:
And, to make things even more fun, there’s an oddly shaped church attached to the end of De Calypso:
The Westersingel canal (a primary canal in Rotterdam that runs from Chinatown to the Museum Quarter) has interesting sculptures dotting the pathway along the water. The name for this route is Beeldenroute Westersingel (Westersingel Sculpture Route). There are 17 sculptures featured, created by artists from around the world:
The end of the sculpture walk brought us to an odd (and apparently somewhat controversial) statue. The statue’s official name is ‘Santa Claus.’ but it is known at the Buttplug Gnome (hence, the controversy as to whether this type of statue should be displayed by the city). It is supposed to be making a comment about pop culture.
Moving right along…SHOPPING!!!
Lijnbaan, the busiest shopping street in Rotterdam, was the first pedestrian shopping area in Europe. There was a large mix of stores including popular American brands I recognized as well as smaller boutiques:
Just off of Lijnbaan is the City Hall building. There’s a street running under the center of the building!
Interesting window shopping continued at the Beursplein, also sometimes called the ‘shopping trench’ because it is a below street-level pedestrian shopping area:
Walking through the Beursplein led to a momentous occasion…my first Swatch! Noah is a big Swatch fan, and I finally let my envy of his cool watches get the better of me:
The Grote of Sint Laurenskerk (often called Laurens Church) was built sometime in the late 15th or early 16th centuries and is the only surviving late-Gothic building in the city. Today, the building is used not only by tourists and churchgoers but also for concerts, lectures, and other large events:
After all this sightseeing, Noah and I were hungry for lunch and excited to stop for a bite to eat at one of the most interesting buildings we saw…Markthal:
Markthal (Market Hall) is a recently-opened indoor food market with shops, stands, produce vendors, restaurants and more. Of course, I would love this sort of food market no mater what, but the building itself is part of what makes this place really interesting. The building is built with apartments and offices forming a partial oval around an open-air center area. In this picture, the internal area extending from the large central window is the open-air market while the exterior ring is office buildings and apartments:
Inside…food, food, food!
From the inside, the ring of offices/apartments looms high above all the action, and the dividing wall is decorated with flower images:
Here is a view to the outside from the center of the market:
After lunch, we looked at a couple of the other neat buildings in the immediate vicinity. Directly across the street from Markthal was Bibliotheek Rotterdam, Rotterdam’s public library:
Also across from the Markthal are the iconic cube houses:
These houses were designed by an architect named Piet Blom. His vision was to make the houses look like trees and have the complete unit appear like a forest.
One cube house is a small museum of sorts where visitors can go inside and see what it would be like to live inside one of these houses. From the inside, the design seemed like a pretty inefficient use of space to me, but it was fun to get a view from within! Here’s a peek out of the attic window:
Our last adventures of the day were to walk along the Nieuwe Maas (the large river running through Rotterdam) and to visit the Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The wind next to the water was incredible. I literally thought I might be blown away, so we didn’t spend too long there before seeking cover on a different walkway. The Het Nieuwe Instituut is a contemporary museum about innovation. Unfortunately, our visit was a bit disappointing because half of the 4 exhibits were closed or not completed. There was a fairly detailed exhibit on 3D printing though….if that’s you’re thing. 🙂
Other posts from the Amsterdam Trip