Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed during World War II, so there is very little to see in terms of historical architecture. However, the city that has grown in its place is considered to be one of the most well-designed and modern in all of the Netherlands. The harbour itself is the second biggest worldwide, and, since there are quite a few ferries to Holland, you won’t be surprised to find you can easily get to Rotterdam, in fact direct by ferry from Hull. It’s a great city to explore, and also a good starting point for a European driving holiday.
When you arrive, one of the first things to do is to visit the Euromast tower. This is the symbol of Rotterdam, and the highest point for miles, standing at 185 metres high. Climb to the top and experience some breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. If the weather is particularly good, you might be lucky enough to see the Belgian border. The tower was completed in 1960, but in 1970, an extra 85 metres was added. If you’re into extreme experiences, you can even abseil down the tower, which will take you all of fifteen seconds. For those who are a little more faint hearted, there is a good restaurant at the 100 metre point!
One of the buildings to survive the war is St Lawrence Church. But for a more modern experience of Belgian architecture, visit the Kuboswoning, or Cubic Houses. These strange houses that were built in the 1980’s are a sight to behold. Thirty-two houses are slanted to 45 degrees and attached to one another, making an odd hexagonal shape. Although most of them are residential homes, they are also open to the public, and definitely worth a look.
For more on the city’s culture, take an afternoon to explore the Boijmans van Beuningen museum of art. It’s one of the most important tourist destinations in the city, housing paintings and sculptures dating back to the Middle Ages. Artists on display include Monet, Degas, and Van Gough. Rembrandt, the Dutch painter is also particularly prominent here. However, there are also plenty of modern works of art, including present day artists. Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali and among the more modern examples. Once you’ve finished looking around, have a coffee in the cafe. Each chair there has been designed by a different artist!
The Kunsthal is another great place to see more art, but also a great experience of the contemporary architecture. The building itself was created by Rem Koolhaas, and has over three thousand square metres of room to exhibit work. There are approximately twenty-five exhibitions here every year, ranging from modern work to older pieces, and includes sculpture, paintings, photography, and film. Some past examples of exhibitions include the works of Da Vinci, women’s underwear, and pop art.
Rotterdam is a wonderful city to explore. Once you’ve had your fill, you can drive on to a number of destinations with ease. Apeldoorn is 62 miles away, Aalst is 74 miles away, and for the adventurous traveller, Lille is only 144 miles away.