Walk through the centre of Rotterdam
(4,8 to 8km or 9,5km / 3 to 5mi or 5,9mi)
The walk starts in front of the Central Railway Station.
Metro Centraal Station
Tram stop lines 4, 7, 8 & 20, 21, 23, 25
The brand new Centraal Station replaced the old one from 1957 and was officially opened in 2014. The public transport terminal designed by architects Jan Benthem, Jeroen van Schooten and Adriaan Geuze is a modern interchange between High Speed Rail, Regional Rail, Metro, Tram and bus and suited for the constantly growing numbers of passengers. The pointed 30 meter high roof covers the huge entrance hall and leads up to the passenger tunnel. The passenger tunnel gives access to the platforms and is lined with shops, restaurants and fast food outlets. The station was officially opened by HM King Willem-Alexander in 2014.
Standing with our back to the newly
built station, looking
right, we see the Groothandelsgebouw.
Construction took place from 1948 until 1952. It had to
solve the shortage of office space that resulted from the
1940 bombing of the city. The idea of building a
multi-company business centre was imported from abroad. This concept reduced the rental costs
(because of the shared facilities) for the smaller businesses for whom the building was intended.
The architect Maaskant was
the senior architect of the building that has a neutral
identical facade of concrete elements. The building is built
around three inner courts. Deliveries are made through
internal roads at different levels. On the roof we see the
former cinema Kriterion. The projection screen was placed in
front of the window. During the intermission the screen
would be rolled up, allowing the audience a view of the
To our left is the Delftse Poort building of insurance company Nationale Nederlanden (currently part of the ING Group). With 150m (493 ft) it is was the highest building in the Netherlands at the time of completion. It consists of two towers of different height and a lower central part crowned by a glass dome. It was completed in 1991 and the architect was A. Bonnema.
We keep left rounding the square along the Nationale Nederlanden building.
On Weena opposite Nationale Nederlanden is the Plaza-building. The building houses offices and apartments. The ground floor is a shopping mall. The casino is here as well. Striking features of the white metal building are the gaudy ornaments over the casino entrance.
To the right of the Plaza the Millenniumtoren was completed in 2000. The tower houses a five star hotel and offices. It was designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership, who earlier had tried their hand at the CN tower in Toronto. According to the architects the shape of the building refers to the "Witte Huis" in Rotterdam, once Europe's tallest building. Because of its likeness with the traditional shape of an American skyscraper it could easily refer to the Empire State Building in New York, as well.
We turn left into Weena. At the first set traffic light we cross the street and continue on Weena.
After the war Weena remained an empty space for decades. The city council was not sure what to do with it. Especially during the seventies there was a strong opposition against high-rise buildings. Cautious attempts at this like the Shell Building were heavily criticised. ("Capitalism's final erection" an Alderman said) or had to be compensated with adjoining low rise structures. Many plans were presented and rejected, until a final plan was adopted in the late eighties. In no more than five years the street was filled with high rise buildings.
We first pass the Unilever building by J. Hoogstad from 1992. The sculpture in front of it moved with Unilever from its former head office elsewhere in Rotterdam. Next to Unilever is the Weena Center (apartments and offices) by the same architect (1990).
Just past the next set of traffic lights is the Weenatoren, a design by Henk Klunder, which was much debated. In the end the tower was built a bit lower than originally intended. Across from the Weenatoren a white building by Bureau ZZ&P (1990).
In front of the Weenatoren we cross Weena at the pedestrian crossing to the right..
On the other side we see the entrance of lounge bar "Toffler", this club is located in a former pedestrian subway. The subway became unsafe and filthy, after which it was closed off and turned into a nightclub.
We walk straight on into the Lijnbaan.
The shopping mall was opened in 1953. The design of Van den Broek and Bakema, was revolutionary for the Netherlands. For the first time a pedestrian zone was created. Deliveries come via the service streets behind the shops. The offices are also behind the shops. The shops have two stories and a basement. Their width varies. The class of shops has been downgraded a bit over time (Kruiskade and Karel Doormanstraat are more up market for clothing). Because of the fragmented ownership of the shops it has been difficult to modernise the Lijnbaan. All kinds of plans were rejected by individual owners. The construction of the Beurstraverse mall (later on this walk) in 1996 finally prompted some concerted action. Facades and awnings were modernised and the neglected flowerbeds removed. Gradually the class of shops is improving.
On the cross roads with the Korte Lijnbaan on left we see the Town Hall from 1920 in the distance.
We turn right into the Korte Lijnbaan. This leads us to the Schouwburgplein (Theatre Square)..
?On the Schouwburgplein we see to our right the Concert Hall "De Doelen", home base to the Rotterdam Philharmonic, one of the best orchestras in the country. At its opening in 1966 Rotterdam had been 26 years without a real concert hall. Planning had already started in 1955. Because of numerous alterations construction did not start until 1962. The architects E. & H. Kraaijvanger and R. Fledderus, meant to build a timeless construction, with emphasis on functional aspects. They also tried to express the cultural character of the building, while avoiding monumentality, in order not to scare visitors off. The copper roof and the decorative facade served this purpose.
The Schouwburgplein itself has been an issue for heated debate for decades. The original post war square was considered to be characterless, too big, windy and cheerless. In 1990 a proposal by Adriaan Geuze (West8) was adopted to reconstruct the square. The square has become some kind of a stage, 35cm (14") above street level. The sides are lit so that the square seems to be floating. The stage floor is a composition of wooden, steal and epoxy parts. There are 4 crane like lighting elements. The benches on the long side invite you to sit down and watch the crowd. In summer the square is rather popular. The benches are very busy. The square is a lot more colourful when the flower boxes are wheeled in. The square is full of references to Rotterdam's maritime heritage. The benches are very similar to those found on cruise ships. The lanterns remind us of dockside cranes, while the floor made of wood, steel and hypoxia is very similar to a ship deck. In summer the square is centre stage for a number of festivals.
Left on the square is the Rotterdamse Schouwburg (theatre) by Wim Quist from 1988. It has a modest and rectangular design.
We walk straight on keeping De Doelen on our right hand, and towards the Pathé Theatre.
This multiplex cinema has seven theatres and 2700 seats. It is situated over a underground car park, so that the construction had to be light. At night the light simmers through the semi-transparent facade. The design from 1992 was by Van Velzen and was completed in 1996.
We walk on between cinema and De Doelen towards the Kruisplein square.
In 2000 the extension of De Doelen Congress Centre was completed. Hoogstad designed the extension besides and on top of the existing building, thus hiding part of the robust facade. The extension offers the badly needed increase in Congress capacity. Next to that is the yellow brick exterior of the Academy for Music and Dance. The conglomerate of buildings is mish mash of styles. Hoogstad likes to think that the spaces within buildings are much more important than their exterior: "architecture is not meant for picture postcards".
Tram stop lines 4, 7, 8, 21, 23, 25
We turn left into the Mauritsweg .
On our left on the corner is the Calypso building with its fascinating wave like facade. It is built on the spot of former cinema Calypso and holds apartments, shops and office space. On its far right side is the Paulus Church by the same architect, but in a distinct brown or copper colour. It replaces an older church which doubled as both a church and a homelss shelter. Church and Calypso building were completed in 2012.
The Westersingel is the canal on your right hand and is the western boundary of the Cool district. Until the early 19th century the city was confined to its original city walls. Only in 1811 the (former) Cool manor was incorporated. Before that time a lot of industries that no longer fitted in the cramped city were moved here. There were also vegetable gardens of poor city dwellers. But most of the area was taken up by semi-legal mansions of the city's rich. In the mid-19th century the city had no more space for building and the city architect Rose launched his Cool - plan. The mansions and gardens were removed and the Westersingel became the western boundary of the city. It started out as a recreational area, with an important role in the city's water management. Between 1864 and 1880 the Westersingel became lined with prominent town houses. On the occasion of Rotterdam's designation as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2001 the Westersingel received a thorough upgrade. Two bridges were laid out and the quays were tastefully refurbished. The quays have also become the exhibition space for some of the cities public sculptures.
At nr. 34 is a replica from 1985 of the pre-war café De Unie, a design by J.J.P. Oud from 1924. The composition of the facade and the use of primary colours make De Unie a typical example of the De Stijl architecture. Painter Mondriaan belonged to the same artistic group and when you know his work you will immediately see the similarities.
We turn left into Van Oldenbarneveldtstraat.
?The building on the corner draws the attention with a frame with a portrait of the Dutch author Multatuli and the quotation: "Vanaf de Maan gezien, zijn wij allen even groot" (Seen from the moon, were are all the same height). Further along this street, increasingly popular with expensive clothing shops we see at nr nr. 127 (De Nostra) and 119 (Prague) shop windows in Art Nouveau style. From nr. 115 onwards we see mainly new buildings. Close to the city centre, the Cool area suffered badly by the 1940 bombings.
At the Karel Doormanstraat we keep going straight on.
On the corner of the Karel Doormanstraat and Van Oldenbarneveldtplaats is the ice cream parlour "Capri", an institution for ice cream loving Rotterdammers.
Tram stop lines 8, 23 & 25
Going further we cross again the Lijnbaan. We continue a little bit further.
?We are now at the beginning of the Beurstraverse mall (nicknamed "Koopgoot" = "shopping gutter"). This new shopping heart of Rotterdam was opened in 1996. The result is half open tunnel that meanders from the Lijnbaan towards the Hoogstraat, crossing the Coolsingel underground. De mall is brightened up with to sets of "fountains", very popular with small children.
To our left we see the Rotterdam store of Bijenkorf Department store (Breuer en Elzas, 1955-57). Built like a closed box, it is covered with hexagonal white travertine plates, representing a beehive structure ("Bijenkorf" means beehive). On the Coolsingel side there is a statue by Gabo.
We can cross the Coolsingel underground or better still at street level.
Tram stop lines 8, 20, 21, 23 & 25
The Coolsingel used to be a moat and part of the city's defences. It was filled in the early 20th century. On the Coolsingel, on the corner of the Beursplein square, is the Stock and Commodities Exchange. The building was constructed from 1927 until 1940 to a design by J.F. Staal. Over the entrance is tower with a belfry. On the steps to the entry is the statue of G.K. van Hoogendorp, the Rotterdam merchant who prepared the return of Willem-Frederik of Orange as king Willem I of the Netherlands after the French Occupation in 1813. In 1986 a 20 story office tower has been built over the exchange trading floor to house the World Trade Center. Its colours match those of the original building.
We walk on down the square and turn left into Rode Zand. We turn right on the second street, the Meent.
Just before the bridge on the corner of Meent and Westewagenstraat is the former office of the Nederlanden Insurance company designed by Dudok in 1952. On the ground floor and mezzanine floor is the Café and Brasserie Dudok (excellent apple pie).
We cross the bridge over the Haagse Veer and turn immediately right into Delfsevaart. We then arrive at the Grote Kerkplein square.
?Here is the Laurens church. The construction of the church was started in 1412. The tower was built in two phases. For the first two parts a start was made in 1449. In 1548 construction of the third part began. In the 17th century the tower got a wooden steeple, a design by Hendrick de Keyser. This was removed in 1645, when the tower started to subside. City architect Persoons managed to get the tower straight again, taking big risks doing it. The church is a late gothic basilica. In 1940 the church was badly damaged, leaving only the walls and the tower. Between 1951 and 1968 the church was completely restored. The tower underwent further restorations in the 1980s.
On the square is also the statue of the Rotterdam born humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536). Although Erasmus only lived here for four years (and never returned) he is celebrated all over town as the city's most famous son. Erasmus studied and lectured in Cambridge, Louvain and Basel and was critic of the church hierarchy, who - in his eyes - was too concerned with gathering worldly wealth and power instead of spiritual matters. Also he resented dogmatism and intolerance and preferred peaceful coexistence and common sense. The statue is from 1622 and designed by Hendrick de Keyser.
We cross the Grote Kerkplein square past the church and turn left
On our right hand side we see artwork marking
the supposed birthplace of Erasmus. We do not exactly know
where he was born (there is no documentation), but it must
have been somewhere near the church.
we retrace our steps and leave the square to left through de Wijde Kerksteeg.
We now enter the Hoogstraat. This unpretentious shopping street is the cradle of Rotterdam. The street, clearly elevated from neighbouring streets, was once called Middendam, the dyke that cut off the river Rotte from the river Nieuwe Maas (Rhine). It was the final link completing the sea wall protecting this part of Holland against flooding. Around this dyke and the lock that was built alongside of it, the hamlet of Rotterdam was born.
We turn right into the Hoogstraat and walk until the Beursplein square. Here we turn left into the Korte Hoogstraat.
After some 150 metre (200 yds) we see on our right hand side the Schielandshuis. The Schielandshuis was built between 1662 and 1665 for the Water Authority of Schieland. It would serve as reception room, conference hall and lodging for a century and a half for the Authority. The Water Authority of Schieland (Hoogheemraadschap) dates back to 1273 when it received its charter from count Floris V and still exists to the present day. The Authority is responsible for the protection of the Schieland region against high water, the maintenance of the dikes and controlling the water level. It raises its own taxes and its board it elected in a direct general election. The number of Authorities that existed until 1850 was reduced from 3,500 to only 24 today. The Schieland Authority was one of six Authorities granted with judiciary powers. It could pass sentences in conflicts over duties and offences undermining the areas safety against floods. In the 19th century the building fell into the hands of the city. On a visit in 1811 emperor Napoleon stayed here three nights on a tour of the Netherlands which he had incorporated in his empire a year earlier. The building burnt down in 1864, but was rebuilt in 1868. It served than as a museum (Boijmans) and city archive and from 1935 up to 2013 as museum of urban history. The building emerged from the war unscathed. In the 1970s new plans were made for the building. After large scale restorations the building was reopened in 1986. The original 17th century look of the building was completely restored. The building now houses the Rotterdam tourist office.
Opposite the Schielandhuis we see the statue in memory of Pim Fortuyn, the Rotterdam politician who was murdered days before the general election of 2002.
We turn left and take at the tram stop tram 21 or 24 (direction De Esch) and alight at Station Blaak (1 stop).
Those who want to cut short the walk now turn right. Walk until the traffic lights and turn left towards the Maritime Museum. Continue in this direction until the Erasmus Bridge, or alternatively, take Tram 23 or 25 (direction Lombardijen or Carnisselanden) for two stops (until Wilhelminaplein) and continue the walk at nr ?
Tram stop line 21
NS Station Rotterdam Blaak
?Having alighted from the tram we see to our left NS station Blaak. In 1993 a railway tunnel replaces the elevated railway that had been used for more than a hundred years. That is why the Blaak railway station is now underground. The structure is open to accommodate the strong air currents caused by the passing trains. The roof is a glass and steel construction. Behind the station we see an apartment tower "the Pencil", a creation of Piet Blom. Left of that is the Municipal Library, partly inspired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, judging by the ventilation shafts on the outside.
Opposite the Library we see the huge market hall. It houses a daily covered fresh food market. Its walls consist of 228 apartments and penthouses. At the ground level there are restaurants and shops. The Marktet Hall was officially opened by HM Queen Maxima in October 2014.
By a short set of steps on the right side of the tramway platform we get to a pedestrian crossing and a set of traffic lights. Here we cross the Blaak.
On our right, on the corner of Blaak and Verlengde Willemsbrug we see the Rotterdam School of Art Willem de Kooning. It was originally built as Bank office for the Mees and Zonen bank in 1934. A rather traditional building in dark red brick.
We turn left
Over the Blaak we now can see clearly the cubic houses (1978-84).This complex is also a creation by Piet Blom, who already had built something similar in the town of Helmond. Under the Cubes are shops and offices. The large cube on the right hand side houses the Rotterdam Youth Hostel (StayOkay). The apartments themselves only have slanted walls and have relatively little space, but have a unique location. One of the houses is open to visitors.
At the entrance of the Metro and Railway Station we turn right towards the Old Docks (Oude Haven). We go through the passage across a courtyard and head left onto the Geldersekade.
We are now in the Old Docks Quarter. De Oude Haven (Old Docks) is aptly named. Already in 1351 there was a little jetty here. During the centuries after that the area was developed further. On the Geldersekade there were many commercial buildings and warehouses. These were all destroyed in 1940. Redevelopment was commissioned to Piet Blom in 1977. Blom is a typical architect of small scale building. He created a housing and nightlife district around the old dock, that now serves as a floating museum for old ships. On the south side is an old working shipyard, called Koningspoort (King's gate).
Right in front of us is the "White House". The White House was completed in 1898 and with its 45metres one of the tallest buildings in Europe. The building did not get good reviews at the time. Critics complained that traditional building methods were used: brick supporting walls, instead of a steel framework, which was already common in the US. On the outside the building has Art Nouveau decorations. Watch out for the plaques representing Labour, Progress, Industry, Trade, Agriculture and Navigation.
We continue along the Geldersekade around the White House and turn left into de Wijnhaven.
We already saw some of the buildings next to the White House. These "Wijnhaven houses" would have been demolished in 1987 in connection with the construction of the railway tunnel. Although the houses were not exceptional there was much popular resistance against the plan. The houses belonged to the few town houses that had survived the war. The protest did not go unheard. The houses were taken apart stone by stone, stored and rebuilt after the completion of the tunnel in 1992. Number 7 dates back to 1718, Number 9 to 1628. Number 11 is "new" from 1903 replacing a house from 1717. Number 13 is a national monument, built 1616-20. In 1742 a soap factory was based here. Now it is the Museum for the Royal Marine Corps. Number 15 is a national monument as well. It has an early 19th century facade. Number 21 is classicist in style. In the water of the Wijnhaven dock is the old bridge man's cabin of the demolished Willem bridge of 1878, that was also rebuilt after the completion of the tunnel.
We backtrack and cross the bridge to our right. Across the bridge we turn right along the Hertenkade. We walk on under the overpass, taking the second passage way from the right (crossing the drive way to the car park, watch the traffic!!). On the other side of the overpass we go up the stairs. Upstairs we turn right towards the traffic lights, where we cross the street towards the My Life gym.
This gym cum restaurant was built in 1996 on the foundations of the former Willem Bridge. The Bridge was built in 1878 to connect the city with the newly developed south bank. The bridge was replaced in 1981 by the new Willem Bridge, which we can see to our left. The old bridge was demolished that same year. The dining hall is below sea level. Extensive precautions were taken to enable the building to withstand a collision with a tanker vessel!
We walk in a westerly direction (right) along the Boompjes quay.
This quay was developed in the 16th century. In the 18th century the Boompjes quay became Rotterdam's "Gold Coast", a popular address for businessmen and offices. On the other side of the street is the Willemswerf office building, office for Maersk Line (shipping). Wim Quist representative of the rationalist tradition, designed this 1989 building. Especially the white plated, wedged facade is remarkable. In 1998 it featured in a fighting scene in the movie Who Am I with HongKong movie star Jackie Chan.
We walk on and keep to the left down the Boompjes quay..
On the other side of the water we see the Maas quay. It's the northern embankment of the Noordereiland, an island created when the Koningshaven dock was dug. In a deal between the city and the Rotterdam Trading Corporation in 1873 the island and other areas were sold to the corporation who would develop and manage new docks on the south bank. The city would only dig the docks and build some bridges. A year after the completion of the Willem Bridge in 1879 the corporation collapsed because of fraud. The chairman of the corporation Pincoffs fled the country. The bankruptcy of the corporation landed the city with ownership of the newly developed docklands. Ever since the city never sold an square inch of docklands again. Striking buildings on the Maas quay are the Jugendstil office of Ooms estate agents (built in 1915 for shipping company Van Driel) and the neo-renaissance Hulstkamp building to its right. This was completed in 1889 as a margarine factory. It was converted to a gin distillery in 1919. The gin distillery closed in the 1970s and the building was converted into a festival hall.
A little bit further down we see the pavilion Boompjes. It is part of the reconstruction of the Boompjes quay, that should give Rotterdam a waterfront orientation. The terrazzo-arcade are both from 1990. More recently the space between the street and the quay were converted into lawns, that became an instant hit with sun worshippers and picnic enthusiasts in summer.
We walk up the stairs to the Boompjes boulevard continue towards the Leuvenhaven bridge.
On the Boompjes we walk past the flag posts of the Flag Parade. A total of 230 flags are in top here. 60 of those advertise the sponsors while 170 are national flags representing the nationalities present in Rotterdam. The flag posts are illuminated at night as national flags are not supposed to hang in the dark.
On our left we see the monument to the 3,500 Dutch merchant seamen who lost their lives during the 2nd World War. It is called "De Boeg" (the Bow). The monument was made by the Italian sculptor Fred Carasso. It was placed here in 1957. There was a wide spread feeling that the monument lacked explicit reference to sacrifice, devotion and duty of the seamen. That is why a sculpture groep of seamen and a motto Zij hielden koers (They stayed on course) were added in 1965.
We cross the Leuvenhaven Bridge
Before the Erasmus Bridge we see the Marathon Monument by Henk Visch of 2001. At its base it carries all the names of the winners (both men and women) of the Rotterdam Marathon since 1985.
At the Erasmus bridge we turn left to cross it.
Metro station Leuvehaven
Tram stop line 8, 23, 25
The Erasmus bridge was opened in 1996 and was nicknamed "the Swan". It is a suspension bridge and the pylon is 123 metres (400 ft) high. That was big news in its own right. But the bridge hit the headlines again when ropes began to swing under certain weather conditions (moderate wind and drizzle). The problem has been dealt with. The bridge has been key element in the plans to connect the city centre with the Kop van Zuid, the dockland redevelopments on the south bank. The bridge stretches the central axis of the Coolsingel and Schiedamsedijk into the south bank connecting with the Laan op Zuid. The monumental character of the bridge makes it an eye catcher and trade mark of the city. On the other side of the river we see left of the bridge the Wilheminahof complex and the Wilhelmina tower. The red brown complex Wilheminahof (Kraaijvanger & Urbis; 1997) houses the offices of the County Court of Justice and the District Court of Justice. In the building there is a gateway giving on to a public courtyard, the metro station and a shopping mall. The glass and marble wing in front contains the court rooms. The red brown buildings behind the court house (Cees Dam & Partners; 1997) belong to the Inland Revenue service and the Customs. The elliptically shaped Wilhelmina tower is a business centre. To the left of that we see the Maastoren (2010) currently the highest building in the country (165m)
To the right of the bridge we see the enormous Rotterdam Building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, a Rotterdam based architect who has earned worldwide acclaim with his designs, such as the head office of Central Chinese Television in Beijing and the Prada Flagship store in New York. De Rotterdam consists of three connected towers with a twist half way up. It houses a hotel, shops, restaurants, sport, health and wellness facilities, apartments and office space for the Urban Development Department of the City of Rotterdam. In terms of floor space it is largest building of the Netherlands (160,000 m² or 17,200,000 sq.ft). Koolhaas labelled it as a vertical city.
At the end of the bridge we turn right at the ramp towards the quay
Tramhalte lijn 20, 23, 25
We now face the "Belvedère". This building, designed by Renzo Piano (Milan), houses the regional office for KPN Telecom. All the facades are different. The front facade is tilted and supported by an elegant pylon of approx. 45 meters long. It carries a light show consisting of green squares dotted all over the facade, showing animations designed by young artists. There is a gazetteer just above the ground floor. Renzo Piano rose to fame in the 1970s when co-designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
We continue along the quay, called the Holland-Amerikalijnkade.
We walk past the Rotterdam Building to have look the Cruise Terminal. The pier we are standing on was largely owned by the Holland-Amerika Line until the Second World War. The shipping company had its head office here and numerous warehouses. Most of them were destroyed during the war. In 1946 the departure hall was built for transatlantic passengers. The design was by the functionalists Brinkman, Van den Broek and Bakema. The building consists of a concrete framework of six shell roofs. The front and rear facades are fully glazed and offer great views of the river. Under the first shell on the left we find the party centre Rotterdam. The rest of the building is used as Cruise Terminal. The terminal has become regular stop for cruise liners. Between 25 and 30 cruiseships call on Rotterdam each year.
We continue along the quay.
Next to the Cruise Terminal is the building of Marine Safety Rotterdam. The building is merely a glass box containing and enormous simulator, used to train (future) ship officers to navigate ships. The building was designed by Sir Norman Foster, who's company is also responsible for the master plan for the entire Wilhelmina Pier.
Next door is the World Port Center, also a design of Foster and Partners. In this business centre shipping related businesses and organisations have their offices, among which the Rotterdam Port Authority, the Port Employers Federation and a municipal crisis control centre. From the top floors the crisis managers can overlook a large part of the city and ports just by looking out the window. The building consists of two towers with an elevator shaft in between. The eastern one measures 89,6 metres and has 23 stories. The western tower is 125 metres high and has 32 stories. Floor 31 and 32en 32 will be used for conferences. At the end of the pier we see a work of art called "Lost Luggage" by Jeff Wall. It commemorates the mass emigration from Europe to the United States, from this quay.
We continue until the end of the quay.
We now get a good view of the former head office of the Holland Amerikalijn. Since 1992 it has been Hotel New York. The HAL commissioned the construction of its head office in 1901. The architects Müller and Drooglever Fortuyn designed the first part of the building that would be enlarged no less than three times. From the original building only the northern facade remains. In 1908 the architects were asked to design an addition together with Van der Tak on the east side of the building. In 1916 the north facade was changed and the clock tower was added. In 1918 the south facade got a new look and a second tower was added. In 1920 the building got its present western front. In making the additions the architects tried to maintain unity of style. The building has been decorated with Jugendstil elements. The face holds four plaques, each with two male figures representing different continents.
During the refurbishment of the building into Hotel New York attention was given to the buildings maritime roots. All hotel rooms are different. Also the restaurant and the bar are worth a look inside. Next to the hotel is the jetty for the Water taxi, connecting the Hotel with the Leuvehaven and Veerhaven docks on the north bank.
After a recommended visit to Hotel New York we take the Water taxi to the Veerhaven.
When we disembark in the Veerhaven dock we see on our right hand the club house of the Royal Yacht and Rowing Club de Maas from 1908. The architect, Hooykaas, was a member himself. The building is in Jugendstil. The Dutch king is honorary president of the club.
In front of us at nr. 25 is the World Museum (Wereldmuseum). The building was built in 1851 as the Royal Dutch Yacht club. A swish yacht club under chairmanship of Prince Hendrik, the king Willem III's brother. From the balcony the members could watch the races on the river. The club was disbanded in 1878. The gifts brought in by the well-travelled members were the basis for both the Ethnological (1883) and the Maritime Museum (1878). Both were established here. The Maritime museum moved elsewhere later. In 1908 a floor was added to the building.
A bit further to the left is a monument dedicated to Pieter Caland, the engineer who designed the Nieuwe Waterweg Canal, giving Rotterdam a direct connection with the North Sea.
The street names Veerhaven (Ferry Dock) and Veerdam (Ferry Dam) refer to the ferry between Rotterdam and the village of Katendrecht. Ferries left from this point as early as the 15th century and remained in service until 1968 when the metro was put into service.
We walk left around the Veerhaven dock.
Tram stop line 7
On the Westplein square we see on our right hand side on nr 1-3 the Atlantic Huis (Buskens, 1930). It was one of the first multi-company business centres in the country. This type of building was copied from the United States. The building is built in Art Deco style. It has rounded corners, framing the central facade like towers. The stained glass windows at the ground and first floors tell the story of modern and progressive Rotterdam with ships, trains, factories, airplanes and the White House. Two plaques represent the Greek gods Hermes (trade) and Neptune (sea). It has been converted into an apartment building.
We keep the dock to our left and reach the other side of the basin.
on numbers 14 and 15 we see the office building from 1916 built for transport company Van Uden. It was designed by De Roos en Overeynder. The facade has beautiful Art Nouveau elements. The Veerhaven dock itself was dug out around 1850, but proved to too small for the ever bigger sea going ships soon after its completion. Today it is home to private yachts and historic sail boat available for charter. It is also the stage for the yearly Veerhavenconcert by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in August.
On the corner of Westerkade and Veerhaven is the former office of Steenkolen Handelsvereniging (Coal Trading Company) a family owned conglomerate that started out selling coal to ships. The building was erected in 1914 with volcanic stone and designed by J.P. Stok Wzn.
We turn right onto the Westerkade quay.
Further down the quay is the statue of Czar Peter the Great from 1997 by sculptor Leonid Baranov. It was a gift from the Russian Prime Minister Tschernomyrdin to the Netherlands.
The white facade on the buildings between Zeemanstraat and Rivierstraat are one block. The block was built by P. Vermaas in 1862. Behind these town houses big warehouse are hidden. These are the last examples of town houses connected to warehouses.
We turn right at the chips stand and immediately left again up the hill.
On our right hand side we see a statue of Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962) by Charlotte Dorothee van Pallandt from 1968.
We walk up the hill and reach the Park Promenade.
We pass the Restaurant Parkheuvel built against the hill. It has two stars in the renowned Michelin restaurant guide. It was the first Dutch restaurant ever, that earned the maximum three stars in 2002. In 2006 it changed ownership. It soon recovered one star and since 2009 it has been found worthy of two stars.
We walk until the end of the promenade and go down the stairs.
In front of us is the entrance of the pedestrian tunnel belonging to the Maastunnel to the right is a ventilation building. The plan for a second link between the two river banks existed for a long time. In 1931 it was decided to build a tunnel. A delegation of the city council visited New York to look at the Holland Tunnel (1927), but they were more inspired by their visit to Antwerp to see the Scheldetunnel (1933). Apart from traffic considerations the object was also to boost Rotterdam's prestige. The entrance buildings, the ventilation buildings, all were built in the same futurist style. The construction slowed down because of the mobilisation in 1939. During the German occupation the work was carried on under German supervision. In order to prevent the Germans from making a spectacle of the tunnel's opening, the tunnel was opened secretly in 1942. In September 1944, it was closed again for military reasons. On 19 May 1945 the tunnel was opened for the second time.
We enter the entrance building
The wooden escalators give access to the bicycle and pedestrian tunnels. In the roof of the escalator shaft we see mosaics by Gidding, referring to the tunnels function and position.
We go out again cross the street at the pedestrian crossing and turn left following the foot path until the Euromast Space Tower..
The Euromast was built in 1958-60 for Eurotoren company to a design by Maaskant. It was meant as the top attraction of a flower show in 1961. It was originally 100 meters (330 ft) high, because Maaskant held the opinion that you could not recognise anything if you went up any higher. Another reason was the fear that people would not dare to visit a tower higher than that. In 1970 a second tower could be bought from the organisation of another event. That tower was placed on top of the Euromast, making it again the highest structure in the city (180m/590ft), a position it had temporarily lost to the Medical School of the Erasmus University in 1966.
At the Euromast we turn right onto the bridge over the Maastunnel road. On the other side we go down the stairs, walk about 20 metres straight on and turn left taking the first path into the Park.
In 1851 the city bought Jan Valckenier estate, who's garden makes up the largest part of the present park. The garden was a complete wilderness. The city had plans to build a slaughterhouse here, but was soon convinced the city needed a park more. Father and Son Zocher got the commission to design a park. They had already done the Vondelpark in Amsterdam . The park was finished in 1863 and enlarged in 1875. The park is laid out in with irregular forms in foot paths and water surfaces, making it "natural", without becoming to wild.
We immediately turn into the first path left, cross the little bridge and keep to the right. We continue along the pond and take the first path to our right.
On the left hand we see the labyrinth and the Heerenhuys (Mansion), dating back to 1800. The mansion and estate were added to the park in 1875.
We continue past the hedgerow and turn left.
We walk towards the white coach house. It was built in 1858. The first floor was the coach masters apartment.
We turn right in front of the coach house and then left crossing a bridge and left again. We continue in the direction of the Norwegian Church.
The Norwegian Seaman's Church is the result of an initiative by the Norwegian minister Saxe, who led the Norwegian Seamen's mission from 1906 to 1922 in Rotterdam. In 1913 a design competition was won by Arneberg and Poulsson. The result is a modest church with all the markings of a 13th century Norwegian Stave church. De church is typical for the nationalist romantic movement in Norway, that came up around Norway's independence in 1905. The movement wanted to give Norway its own identity in architecture. The movement used elements from old Norwegian building traditions. Both architects became famous for their design of the Oslo City Hall (1918-47).
Across the Westzeedijk we see the Erasmus Medical Centre. In 1965 the government decided to establish a seventh medical school in Rotterdam, which would later merge with the Rotterdam School of Economics to form the Erasmus University in 1973. The building was completed in 1968. It is 114 metres (375 ft) high. The high-rise building holds laboratories and offices. The lower buildings lecture rooms. The aluminium plates covering the facade hide a concrete skeleton of the building. The new tower next to it is part of the renewal programme of the old hospital buildings and was completed in 2017.
We turn right along the Westzeedijk and cross at the pedestrian crossing.
Tram 8 (Westzeedijk)
We now enter the former Hoboken estate. A family domain bought by the city in 1924. Before us we see the Museum of Natural History. The building was the former mansion of the Hoboken family from 1852. The annex was designed by Meccanoo in 1995.
To the right is the Hall of Art (Kunsthal), a design by Rem Koolhaas from 1992. The building serves as an exhibition hall for special exhibitions the for which it borrows art works from museums and private collections. The building is cut in two by pedestrian slope connecting the Westzeedijk with the Museum Park. The big exhibition room has a transparent roof and a big "showcase" window. The installation tower is used as a billboard to announce exhibitions.
We walk through the building via the pedestrian slope into the museum park.
The Museum Park was designed by the bureau OMA of Rem Koolhaas. The design was completed in1992. The park is explicitly artificial and does not connect with the museum garden of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the rose garden next to it. Lots of concrete and tarmac. From the museum zone we reach the Romantic Garden by a bridge. Behind that is the fairground used for festivals and the open air cinema in august and september.
At the end of the park on the right hand side is the Museum Boymans Van Beuningen. The art collection bequeathed by the lawyer Boijmans to the city was originally housed in the Schielandshuis. The industrialist Van Beuningen partly financed the new building and added to the collection. The new building was necessary because the collection became to big. City architect Van der Steur designed the building in 1928. It was criticized by the modernist and functionalist architects of those days who thought it was far too traditional and non-functional. Van der Steur took his inspiration from the Stockholm City Hall in Sweden. The museum is currently closed for restorations.
To the left is the Depot. This
exceptional structure opened its doors in 2021 and serves as
storage for art currently not on display and restauration
studios. It is publicly accessible and has a roofgarden and
restaurant op top.
Before us is the Dutch Institute for Architecture. The design (1988) is by Jo Coenen. The building was completed in 1993. The three functions of the institute are housed in separate parts of the building. The archives are in the bent arcade at the back. The research staff and library are in the glass building in the middle. The exhibitions take place in the square box to the right. The arcade is lit at night by coloured light tubes and form a piece of art by Peter Struyken. On the left side is a restaurant named after the architect. In the water is a sculpture by Auke de Vries.
We turn right (Museumpark) and see some white villa's on our left.
On the corner of Jongkindstraat and museumpark is a villa designed by Stokla (1938). It main features are the rounded balconies and the awnings. Since 1993 it houses the Chabot Museum, dedicated to the Rotterdam expressionist painter Hendrik Chabot (1894-1949).
Those interested in architecture would do well to sidestep a mere 100 metres into the Jongkindstraat
At Jongkindstraat nr 12 is the Villa Sonneveld from 1933. It was built by Van der Vlugt, commissioned by the Sonnenveld family. Mr Sonneveld was member of the board of the Van Nelle coffee, tea and tobacco company. Both Brinkman and Van der Vlugt had designed the modernist Van Nelle factory a few years earlier (now a national monument). The house is a perfect example of modernist architecture, with lots of glass and steel, giving the construction a light impression. The house was recently acquired by the Netherlands Institute for Architecture next door and is now open for visitors (tickets at the Institute to your left). The house has been meticulously restored to its former glory. The house was designed into smallest detail. From stairwell to teacup, from doorbell to rooftop garden. The Sonneveld family moved here in 1933 without taking anything with them from their previous home. The house give a perfect impression what it must have been like to live in a modernist house in the early 1930s.
We return to the corner of the Jongkindstraat and Museumpark and turn left
At nr. 9 is the villa built for the Boevé family, a General Practioner. It is a design by Brinkman en Van der Vlugt, representatives of functionalism and built in 1933. The building has a light construction because of soft ground. At ground level are the living room and the doctor's practice. The bedrooms are at the first floor. The principles of the functionalists are also expressed in their views on nature and health. On the roof they built a roof garden and a gym.
We continue towards the Westersingel.
On the corner of Museumpark and Westersingel (nr. 76) is the Remonstrant Church from 1897. The tower is its most striking feature. The portal on the Westersingel side is decorated with the motto: "Eenheid in het nodige, Vrijheid in het onbekende, In alles de Liefde" (Unity in the necessary, Freedom in the unknown, In everything Love). Above that is a mosaic with an angel and the letters Alpha and Omega.
On the right hand side of the bridge is a sculpture based on a painting by Picasso (1881-1973) by the norwegian Carl Nesjar (1920). It originally stood on the corner of Weena and the Kruisplein, but was moved here in 2003. It is called Sylvette after one of Picasso's models, whom he painted and drew more than 40 times in 1954.
Tram stop line 7
At the other side of the water we can take tram line 7 back to the Central Station (direction Oudlaan). .
Alternatively we can continue the walk to towards the Central Railway Station. Turn left across the water into Eendrachtsweg, keeping the water on our left hand side. We cross at the traffic lights and walk on to the square called Eendrachtsplein.
Tram stop line 4 & 7
On this square a famers market is held every Tuesday. In front of us we see the sculpture Santa Claus by the American sculptor Paul McCarthy. The purchase by the city of this work of art in 2001 caused one of the biggest art controversies of the last decades. The miniature Christmas tree the Santa Claus is holding in his hand aroused sexual associations with many critics, members of the city council among them. To avoid escalation of the conflict the sculpture was placed in the courtyard of the Boymans museum and not on the street where it might offend people. As time went by, emotions subsided. When the shop owners of the Nieuwe Binnenweg took the initiative to move the sculpture to its present location nobody bat an eyelid.
We cross the Mauritsweg to our left at the pedestrian crossing walking around the pavilion on our right hand side
The pavilion is known as the Old Tram House and was built as a tram stop shelter in 1904. It has been moved around the city no less than six times and served as many purposes, like traffic control post, ticket office, tourist information booth until came here in 1971 as a tea room. Later it got fame as one of the few bars with a all-night license. Presently it is a snack bar selling kebab.
We continue around the Tram House down the steps leading to the Sculpture Gallery.
The Sculpture Gallery was set up here in 2001 when Rotterdam was European Capital of Culture. Five sculptures were brought together on was to become the cultural axis between Railway Station and Museum district. In order of appearance we see l’homme qui marche by Rodin (1907), Goodbye by Mastroianni (1955), Laying figure by Wotruba (1971), Mother and Child by Visser (2000), The Grand Musician by Laurens (1938) and an untitled work by Shapiro (1999). Shapiro’s sculpture was purchased for this gallery, Visser’s was commissioned for it. The others were relocated.
We continue along the water.
On our right hand side we see Café de Unie and the Calypso building that we saw earlier on this walk (see page 29)By now we see the Central Railway station in front of where the walk ends.
last update: 09-07-2015