Stad Zonder Hart

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , South Holland,
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We headed south to the Netherland's second largest city, Rotterdam, with a population around 600,000. Rotterdam is a major port city, and is the largest in Europe.  Like Amsterdam, Rotterdam derives its name from the early settlers who placed a dam in the Rotte stream sometime in the first century.  Rotterdam is a very modern European city, full of new skyscrapers.  Rotterdam owes this modernization to World War II and the Blitz.

Hitler wanted the Dutch to surrender quickly at the start of the war; however, the job wasn’t accomplished as easily as he’d hoped.  Rotterdam was an important and strategic city that Hilter hoped he could win.  The generals he sent to Rotterdam threatened the Dutch with destruction of the city in hopes that they would surrender.  Negotiations stretched out several days, and, even though a settlement had been established, relaying of the message was not fast enough to halt the already planned aerial assault.  As the Germans signaled flares for the arriving bombers to call-off the attack, low visibility and haze preventing some of the formations from seeing the flares.  In the end, in the afternoon of May 14th, 1940, over 1,200 bombs were dropped in the center of the city essentially leveling most of what was the heart of Rotterdam (and thus, the title of the blog "Stad Zonder Hart" means "City without a Heart" in En).  I included some pre- and post-WWII pictures I managed to dig up.

Since the war, Rotterdam has rebuilt and done so in a modern daring way.  Many of the apartments, office buildings, and skyscrapers are all on the cutting edge of design.  Building such as the Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge), Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses), and Maastoren (the tallest building in the Netherlands) are just some of the notable new additions to Rotterdam.  Though Rotterdam does lack of the typical Dutch charm of most of traditional Dutch cities, it is a major economic power in the Netherlands and Europe.

When we arrived, the city was covered in snow (as was the whole country), and it was blanketed in fog as well which wasn’t ideal for sightseeing; however, we made the most out of it.  We were able to step inside the Rotterdam City Hall which was one of the few structures downtown to survive the Blitz.  We visited the local market, and reveled in the cheap deals there, such as 1 euro Bueno candy bars.  We also past the Witte Huis (White House) which was another building to withstand the Blitz.  It is herald as the first skyscaper in Europe. Topping out at 10 floors, it was built in 1898 and inspired by American office buildings. 

We roamed around downtown some more and stopped at the World War II monument and the neighboring Erasmusbrug, a modern bridge crossing the Nieuwe Maas (an outlet of the Rhine River).  From there, we trekked through the snow covered Het Park to get to the Euromast.  The Euromast is an observation tower that stand about 185 meters (or about 600 feet).  There is a base observation deck halfway up and an observation nest above that which oscillates up and down; however, because of the snow and wind, this top deck was closed so we weren’t able to go up in it.  There is a restaurant in the tower as well.  The view from the Euromast was great obstructed by the weather, so we mostly warmed up inside the tower and enjoyed what view there was to be had.

As the sun set over Rotterdam, we walked back to the train station for the short ride home to Leiden.  Rotterdam may not have the classic beauty of Amsterdam, but it is an interesting and big city with a bit more modern conveniences than other tightly compacted Dutch cities. 
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Annemarieke de Vlaming on

SOOOO Glad the 1 euro Bueno Bars made it into this blog!! hahahhaha

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