A quick walk through Rotterdam, the modern architecture hub.
Rotterdam is one of those big and fancy cities where there’s not really anything particularly interesting in it, but it is still an experience in itself to walk through it and get a feel for the vibe. To be fair, I wasn’t there for very long and it wasn’t initially on my Netherlands travel list in 2022, but my friend Eva was there visiting some friends, so we made plans to meet up.
As Europe’s largest port city and a huge logistics centre, Rotterdam is always busy, but I didn’t get the sense that it was crowded. It is also very well organised with a very modern, open plan, because it was mostly destroyed during World War 2 when it was bombed to the ground by the invading German forces. Very few buildings survived in the city centre, so it was completely rebuilt between the 1950s and the 1970s and is now a living symbol of the Dutch perseverance and their sacrifices during the war. Fun fact: it was also a major spy centre during World War 1, because of its port and the Dutch neutrality stance.
Nowadays it is mostly famous for its modern architecture and nightlife, so if you want to see what a blend of about 50 years of futuristic architecture and business hubs looks like, it is the place to be. One of its most recognisable landmarks are the yellow Cube Houses, created by the architect Piet Blom in the 1970s as an answer to an urban planning problem – the residential areas across Blaak street had to be connected somehow, so his answer was to create a pedestrian bridge made of houses. Living in a Cube house is a bit like living in a boat and if you want to give it a try, you can either book a stay in the Cube House Stayokay hostel, which is what Eva did, or visit one that has been converted into a museum.
The Cube Houses
Right across from the Cube houses is another very modern attraction – Rotterdam’s indoor Market hall. It is basically a giant indoor grocery shopping centre the size of a football pitch, but the ceiling is crazy and absolutely worth a visit.
The Market Hall
There are of course more tourist attractions and several museums in Rotterdam, but I didn’t have a lot of time and none of them particularly drew my fancy, so you are welcome to look at a more extensive travel guide to Rotterdam here. Eva and I mainly met up for brunch and a quick walk through the city centre so that I could enjoy the architecture tour, before taking a water bus to the historical windmills of Kinderdijk. So here’s a parting Rotterdam travel tip for you: instead of taking an official boat tour through the canals, you can take a ride on the cheaper public transport water bus boat, as most of the water bus lines run through the main canals anyway. 🙂