Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ second largest city, and considering its history the simple fact that it exists is quite an achievement. The city was raised to the ground during World War II, and the inhabitants spend the next couple of decades rebuilding.
This means that as opposed to many other major cities in the Netherlands, Rotterdam doesn’t still sport its medieval centre, instead you’ll find a unique architectural aesthetic, an approach that is progressive and in constant motion, which is definitely a reflection of the city’s postwar philosophy.
However the reason for both Rotterdam’s destruction as well as rebuilding is its tradition of being a seaport, Europe’s busiest port actually and the world’s second busiest. Rotterdam has been a nexus for shipping lanes since the 16th century when it became an important port in a major sea conflict.
Ever since then the city has maintained and built upon its status, now it is virtually crackling with energy, featuring a multicultural community – as it is to be expected from a port city – an always running nightlife and a penchant for gritty art and a bunch of great museums.
One of the most striking buildings that you’ll see while in Rotterdam is the Willemswerf, which is the headquarters of the Nedlloyd shipping company, a building to match its size.
The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is one of the continent’s finest museums actually, it has a permanent collection which spans all eras of Dutch and European art, and this obviously includes the old masters.
Now most of Rotterdam may have been destroyed but a few districts survived in part, and Oude Kerk is one of those. This is where you’ll find a reconstructed 18th century windmill overlooking the water. This is the place from where the Pilgrims left Holland for America and they transferred to the Mayflower in England.