6 Little-Known Facts You Should Know About Rotterdam
Posted On June 1, 2020
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Welcome to Europoort
August 1990, Rotterdam – 2nd largest city of The Netherlands. Its international port (Europoort) is the biggest in Europe and 2nd in the world. (The biggest is Shanghai Port in China) Europoort lies at the mouths of Rhine and Meuse Rivers as they open to the North Sea. This is the world’s most heavily navigated sea especially crude carriers.
The city has large oil refineries. Rotterdam pipelines carry crude oil (from the North Sea) and natural gas to the capital city of Amsterdam, then to the Belgian city of Antwerp and to Germany. And this is where my first ocean adventure began aboard the Norwegian crude carrier – M/T Knock Nalling.
While this city is popular with its ubiquitous cyclists and canals, here are 6 little-known facts you should also know about Rotterdam.
The Iconic Cube Houses
One of the little-known facts you should know about Rotterdam are the cube houses. They are apartments which were designed to look like trees in a forest. Constructed above a pedestrian bridge, each house is tilted at an angle of 45 degrees.
A must-see when you are visiting Rotterdam but try not to peek through the windows. There are people who actually live there. These eccentric building blocks were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom. So unique as they are, it makes you wonder how those tenants cope up with the strange angles of the walls and windows. One of the “cubes” is open to the public so you can see what it really looks like inside.
Rotterdam’s “Red Light District”
While Amsterdam is famous for its red light district, however in Rotterdam its “red-lights” earn a greater popularity. And it is another little known fact you should know about this city.
During World War II, the city was heavily bombed by the Germans on May 19, 1940. Today, when you walk on the streets of Rotterdam, you will discover red burning flames under the ground. These represent the firing line or periphery of the bombings. The areas bombed were marked inside the fire line. Those outside of the periphery have survived.
Sometimes called “De Swan” (The Swan), the 800-meter long Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam has a lopsided pylon that looks like a swan. Though the shape is uncommon, it gives a projecting outline on the city’s skyline.
A part of the bridge opens up at an angle to let large ships like M/T Knock Nalling, to pass through. Another little-known fact you should know that Erasmus Bridge was constructed this way to make traffic flow easier in Rotterdam. It has been named after Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch, and one of Europe’s most influential scholar during the Renaissance period. He was from Rotterdam.
Maastunnel Like No Other
Completed in 1942 after 5 years of construction, Maastunnel is not just the oldest street tunnel in Holland but the first one to be constructed using immersed tube method. Two for cars, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists, the deepest point goes about 20 meters below sea level.
A little-known fact you should know about Rotterdam, the Maastunnel is an important part of the city’s road network. In the 19th century, a discussion came up that if a bridge on River Nieuwe Maas would have to be constructed it must have to be so tall to allow ships plying through Europoort A decision to build a tunnel instead was made in 1933 and completed during the German occupation in World War II. So while Rotterdam has been totally wiped out by German blitz, the tunnel was spared. On February 1942, a clandestine opening ceremony was done without the knowledge of the Nazi army.
As I had earlier mentioned, most of Rotterdam’s historic buildings were flattened by German bombings during the Second World War. It made about 80,000 people homeless. The work of rebuilding the city was long and arduous.
But before the 21st century besets, a little-known fact you should know about Rotterdam is that it has redefined itself. It became Europe’s cradle for quirky and spectacular architecture. De Rotterdam, a large building in the city that looks like a Lego block is one such example.
The Botlek Store
Right in the heart of Europoort is a duty-free shop for seafarers like me. In this mall, you can find anything and everything. A little-known fact you should know about Rotterdam, at Botlek you can even find Filipino products such as the Chippy corn chips, sky flakes and the pancit canton. This is the Filipino seafarers snack especially at midnight after a tiring ship duty.
Sometimes Rotterdam is called “the city that never sleeps”. You can order a dinner at midnight or go for a drink at dawn. There is always a party in one corner. And you can do a lot of things there. They are just waiting for you to explore them when the world is ready to travel again.