Rotterdam, The Netherlands
There’s been a fair bit for me to write about after more than a week in Rotterdam – the second-largest city in the Netherlands.
It’s a place which has had to deal with mass destruction, redefine its identity and find a balance in the constant push and pull of being an international interchange.
I didn’t know much about Rotterdam before arriving here but I’ve been really impressed with the way it has handled its history, built a strong cultural scene, and not let the port completely consume any signs of independent life around it.
The port here in Rotterdam is the busiest in Europe (and one of the busiest in the world) and it’s had a huge effect on the way the city feels today.
There’s a very strong multicultural atmosphere to Rotterdam and just looking at the variations of faces in the streets, you can see how many people must have once come here aboard a trading ship and then decided to stay.
But rather than creating tensions, it seems to have been embraced and at times I felt like there were more Turkish restaurants than traditional Dutch ones, for instance.
You don’t need to go far in the centre of the city to see signs of construction. The legacy of the Second World War continues.
On the 14th of May in 1940, German warplanes dropped almost 100 tons of bombs on the centre of Rotterdam. As if the actual bombardment wasn’t bad enough, it sparked blazes which turned into a firestorm and burnt down the entire centre of the city.
Much of the space was rebuilt in a hurry directly afterwards and it’s only now that those rushed buildings are coming down and new ones are being constructed in their place.
If you walk along the border of the fireline, you see old houses down one side and brand new designs on the other.
Canals run through the city, like in so many parts of The Netherlands…
Public art pops up in unexpected places and in unexpected forms (like the enormous statue of Santa which looks like he’s holding a buttplug)…
The bars and clubs spill out into the streets…
The preference for bicycles over cars keeps the volume down…
And the roads will suddenly rise up perpendicular to allow boats to go underneath them.
I thought I would share with you some more of the photos of the urban landscape I’ve taken while exploring Rotterdam.
Unfortunately the weather has not been perfect. For the ultimate effect, imagine these shots with blue skies and a glaring ball of orange.
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Rotterdam Marketing but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.