I recently visited the second biggest city in the Netherlands:  Rotterdam. This has many claims to its fame, but the biggest ones are that it has the third largest port in the world, it is considered the gateway to Europe, it was the only Dutch city bombed in World War II and it is world renowned for its architecture.

The German army invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Hitler thought he would be done with this small country in one day, but he was surprised with the resistance that his army received. So four days later, Rotterdam was bombed. And with it, a promise from the Germans to bomb more cities and towns. The heart of Rotterdam was completely destroyed, about 40% of the city was leveled.  Nearly 1,000 people were killed and 85,000 were now homeless. The Dutch surrendered after this bombing and the Netherlands was occupied for the next five years by the Nazis. 

After the war, the city had to rebuild and that is how the modern skyline was created. You will now see very modern designs and it has become one of the centers of European modern architecture. 

I am sharing some photographs to show you its beauty and uniqueness to other towns and cities in this country.  Amsterdam was not bombed, so that its skyline is nothing like Rotterdam’s. Me? I prefer the old buildings, but I certainly appreciate what they did to rebuild their city. And some of the new buildings are jaw dropping amazing. 

I took a 75 minute boat tour of the port and most of the photographs were taken while on this tour. About 15 feet in front of us were two men in a very serious discussion, that began before we left the dock. They were both in suits, and looked out of place on a boat tour. As the boat moved, other men slowly came up front and they were focused  on one of the men in suits, they were very deferential and respectful to this man. Each man would pull out his cell phone and have his photograph taken with him. I have no idea what country they were from, but I am sure they were not Dutch or American, I just couldn’t recognize the language. Now there are ten men standing at the front of the boat and all are enthralled with this man. At one point this man just stood leaning against the railing, like he was at a photo shoot, and the others took his picture. Who was this man? I have no idea. But none of the men cared about the narrated tour, the port or the skyline…their focus was on this man. I was almost tempted to go up to him and ask to have my picture taken with him too…now that would have thrown him a little. I thought I could do my Kate Winslet Titanic impression for him, but decided that it may have been too much excitement for one day. 

 Recommended reading:  The Zookeeper’s wife  by Diane Ackerman

                                            Night Watch by Sarah Waters

                                           My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young

 PS  some of you guessed correctly—the titles for all of the posts are movie titles.

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  • janeduttonutrecht  On April 6, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Great photos Natascha!

  • Loree Griffin Burns  On April 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Lovely photos, Jane and Natascha. That is definitely a modern skyline! Glad you two had a nice trip. (I can’t believe you didn’t ask who the man was, Jane!)

  • Paul  On September 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Nice to read that somebody understands what Rotterdam is all about.


    Paul, Rotterdam

  • Ien in the Kootenays  On March 9, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for the pictures! I never get a chance to see Rotterdam. Rotterdam was my mother’s home town. I stayed with my Oma for a week when I was 11, and she took me to visit downtown, which was just starting to be re-built, all modern. The famous Zadkine statue was there, and the Lijnbaan. That was about all. It was 1954.

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