Rotterdam, Roffa, Rotjeknor and Manhattan aan de Maas

Highlights of Rotterdam part 1

Me and Rotterdam, or should I say Roffa, go way back. My best friend lives there, so since my student years you can find me a lot drinking in cool bars and visiting outstanding art exhibitions in one of the many Modern and Contemporary art museums. Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I made a short citytrip to Rotterdam. My sister just moved from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and went on a holiday, so we got the chance to stay in her awesome two-storey apartment in het Oude Noorden (the Old North), thé upcoming neighbourhood in Rotterdam. During our two-day citytrip I found so many highlights, I don’t even know where to begin… So I decided to dedicate multiple posts to it, otherwise it would be a (too) loooooong, looong why-you-should-all-go-to-Manhattan-aan-de-Maas-review…


Skyline of Rotterdam with the Erasmusbrug (bridge on the left) by UNStudio and their latest asset De Rotterdam (second skyscraper on the right) by Rem Koolhaas.

Rotterdam Central Station

Your site-seeing trip already starts when you arrive at Rotterdam Central Station. I still remember the old station building designed in a functionalist style by Sybold van Ravesteyn in 1957 during Rotterdam’s Post-World War II reconstruction period. Functionalism is an architectural movement in which the design of (all parts of) a building is solely determined by its function. The so-called father of this movement, Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924), explained it in a very clear way:

Form ever follows function

© Team CS

© Team CS

To cope with the increasing number of arrivals and departures of national and international trains (and thus passengers), Rotterdam decided to renew their main train station designed by Team CS (a collaboration between architects of Benthem Crouwel, MVSA and West8) in 2004. Since its opening in March last year, it has won several national and international awards for its unique design and spatial atmosphere. A new icon that has already been embraced by the people of Rotterdam (and me…). No words can describe what it looks and feels like, so…. Go to Rotterdam and check it out for yourself! I promise you will be amazed…

The highest point of the roof points towards the city center

The highest point of the roof points towards the city centre © Team CS

Natural wonders in Rotterdam

I like all types of museums, also the ones about our natural history and especially when the objects are presented in cabinets (of natural curiosities). One of my favourite books about this subject is Kabinetten, galerijen en musea (oops, only available in Dutch) by my former art history professor Ellinoor Bergvelt.

Cabinet Deinse Natural History Museum

The cabinet of biologist dr. A.B. van Deinse at the Natural History Museum

The National History Museum in Rotterdam is a small museum with super interesting exhibitions! For example, the permanent exhibition about the biologist dr. A.B. van Deinse (1885-1965) and his collection of zoological rarities and the exhibition Uitslovers (Dutch translation for show-offs) about the notable achievements of various animals. The writings on their educational signs are absolutely amazing! Ever heard of the Bombardier beetle? Oh lord, I burst out some sort of cry-laughing when I read about the capabilities of this dirty insect….

The Natural History museum is located, together with Boijmans van Beuningen, de Kunsthal and het Nieuwe Instituut (the former NAI) (make it a day trip to visit them all!), in the Museumpark. Definitely worth a walk or a chill out session with a book on a sunny day. Another park you shouldn’t pass is Het Park. This tranquil oasis that’s hidden in the shadows of the Euromast houses a 2 Michelin stars restaurant (Parkheuvel) and has a traditional Nordic Sjømannskirken (Nordic seamen church) from 1914. This church was built for the Nordic seamen who worked in the harbour of Rotterdam and still serves as a cultural. social and spiritual meeting place for Norwegians abroad.

Museumpark Rotterdam Flowers

Museumpark designed by Rem Koolhaas between 1985-1993 in collaboration with landscape architects Yves Brunier and Petra Blaisse.

Why Rotterdam?

Rotterdam. Dutch city of Contemporary art and architecture and Europe’s largest harbour was ranked in 10th place by the New York Times in their top 52 places to go in 2014. This year, the second city of the Netherlands is proclaimed by the International Academy of Urbanism as European City of the year 2015. After being completely destroyed during the World War II, this city rebuilt itself and created a lively cultural climate with great Modern architecture from (for example) W.M. Dudok, J.P. van Eesteren and Pieter Caland.

Together with their Contemporary architectural companions from Benthem Crouwel, MVRDV, UNStudio, Rem Koolhaas and the Italian Renzo Piano, this city has a cosmopolitan allure. There’s no other city in the Netherlands with such an international vibe, especially the city’s skyline at night (to make extremely visual stimulating pictures!) makes you think of New York or other great modern metropolises with wide avenues and enormous skyscrapers.

If I wouldn’t live, work and a have boyfriend who doesn’t want to leave his ‘Mokum’ everrrrr! ;)) in Amsterdam, I would definitely pack my bags and move to Rotterdam! Stay tuned for more Rotterdam highlights….

Painting Rotterdam de Kaap