Rotterdam is the second largest city of the Netherlands (behind Amsterdam), and is located in the south of the country. It has a population of more than 600’000 people and about 1.3 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Rotterdam is home to Europe’s largest port, and was the world’s busiest from 1962 until it was surpassed by Shanghai in 2004. The city can be easily reached by train, with direct connections from the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Rotterdam is offering various museums, such as the Kunsthal, the Netherlands Fotomuseum or Maritiem Museum. I highly recommend to visit also the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. It was founded in 1894 and has a collection ranging from medieval European art to modern art. Currently, the museum shows a temporary exhibition on the Surrealist art movement with masterpieces of Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró.
Rotterdam is known as a city of modern architecture. In 1940, during World War II, the heart of the city was almost completely destroyed by the German air force. From the 1950s through the 1990s the city of Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt, becoming the only city in the Netherlands with an impressive modern skyline. Therefore, Rotterdam is home to some world-famous architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom, Ben van Berkel and others.
Following three architectural highlights are the most famous one in Rotterdam: The Central Station has had a total makeover in recent years, making the station one of the most iconic architectural features in Rotterdam. A few historic elements from the former station building (1957) have remained intact, such as the original clock, as well the letters spelling out Centraal Station at the main entrance. The Markthal is a quite remarkable building, with a large indoor food market and a beautiful artwork across the indoor ceiling. Besides the market hall, there are also apartments, offices and restaurants. The Erasmus Bridge, built across the Nieuwe Maas, was designed by Ben van Berkel in 1996 and is known as the new city icon. The 800-metre long bridge links the northern and southern parts of Rotterdam. The shape of the pylon gave the bridge its nickname “The Swan”.