Rotterdam – largest European port

Rotterdam is one of the few thoroughly modern cities in Holland and the greatest scientific center in Europe with the Rotterdam Erasmus University leading pace in many research areas. Located on the Maas River, it is the world’s second largest port and the first largest commercial harbor in Europe. There is an abundance of attractions, festivals and museums. Rotterdam has a swinging, young city culture.

Rotterdam derives its name from the little river the Rotte. In the 13th century a fishing village was built nearby a dam in the river Rotte. The village was granted a municipal charter in 1340 and was a prosperous trading town in the 16th and 17th century, with many warehouses and shipyards. At that time Rotterdam was the homeport for sea heroes like Piet Heyn and Tromp.

Rotterdam was also one of the harbors used by the “Vereenigde mouth Oostindische Compagnie” (VOC). The city’s economic development stagnated after the 17th century, mainly because the mouth of the river MaasNieuwe Waterweg’ – the shipping link with the North Sea – and the canal links with the Rhine and the Maas were built in the late 19th century, which gave Rotterdam a direct, high-capacity connection to the North Sea. At that time Rotterdam began to develop into an international center of trade, transport and industry.

The dramatic turning point in the history of the city was the bombing at the start of World War II on May 14, 1940. The town center, as well as the harbor, was completely destroyed by German bombers. The Russian-French sculptor Ossip Zadkine, seeing the wasteland that had once been the heart of Rotterdam, was inspired to create his statue ‘The Razed City’ (‘City without a heart’) in 1946, now considered to be one of his most important works of art. The sculpture is located in the city center.

In the years following the war every effort was made to reconstruct the city. In the 60’s Rotterdam became the Europe’s largest harbor and it remains the one till now. Meanwhile a new city center arose with a cosmopolitan appeal and numerous masterpieces of modern architecture as the post-war reconstruction has given Rotterdam its unique architectural character. A new inner city developed, with spacious and functional architecture oriented towards the river, and a series of experiments in city planning, which have evoked both professional and tourist admiration.

If you are looking for an old fashioned alternative from the high-rise buildings, thoroughfares, and shopping malls of Rotterdam’s modern city center, then it’s worth taking a trip to the picturesque Delfshaven. It was from here that the Pilgrims set sail for America in 1620. Delfshaven is one of the few parts of the city that survived World War II. As well as the typical Dutch houses and streets, you’ll find the birthplace of the famous Dutch naval hero, Piet Heyn, the historical museum “De Dubbelde Palmboom” and the Pilgrim Fathers Church. Finally you could round your trip off by visiting one of the many cozy pubs, restaurants and cafés in this unique area of the city.

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