Amsterdam might be The Netherlands’ capital and top-rated city but that doesn’t mean other cities don’t deserve a spot on your bucket list. Rotterdam, for instance, is a treasure trove of modern architectural gems, landmarks, and skyscrapers, that all beg to be discovered.
Rotterdam is a city of many names and recognitions. It’s the second-largest city in the Netherlands. It also has a rich maritime heritage and is known for its port which is the largest in Europe. Lastly, Rotterdam is viewed as the architecture capital of the Netherlands, featuring several iconic, historical buildings and modern architecture.
Are you planning to visit Rotterdam soon? Whether you’re an architecture geek or not, you’ll surely be amazed by these 8 jaw-dropping architectural gems in Rotterdam.
1. Centraal Station
Rotterdam’s Centraal Station isn’t just the main railway of the city — but it’s also a statement of Rotterdam’s architectural ambitions. The modern central station’s most dazzling feature is its large metal-clad canopy, which is nearly 45 degrees. The angular roof’s V-shaped corner points towards the city centre, showing you exactly which way to go.
Lodging in the city centre brings you closer to prime attractions, dining places, shopping centres, and other places of interest. The great thing is you can find hotels and serviced apartments in Rotterdam that are conveniently located just across the central station.
2. Markthal (Market Hall)
Rotterdam’s massive, state-of-the-art food market hall is impossible to miss. The sustainable, upside-down horseshoe-shaped edifice has become an iconic part of the city’s urban landscape since 2014. The arch enclosing the market not only holds retail space but also apartments and offices.
Don’t forget to look up — the market’s most impressive feature is in its ceiling! The hall’s ceiling is adorned by a gigantic artwork called “Horn of Plenty” by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam.
3. Cube Houses
These bright yellow cube houses are odd residential buildings that were designed to resemble a forest, with each unit representing a singular tree. You think looking from the outside is already mind-boggling? Imagine living in a small cube house, but the cube is tilted and anchored on its corner, resulting in weirdly-angled walls.
It’s not the most practical way to live, but we can’t deny that Cube Houses, built in the early 1980s by Piet Blom, make for a quirky architectural gem. If you’re wondering what it feels like to live inside their slanted walls, you can visit an onsite museum called Kijk-Kubus.
4. Erasmus Bridge
Named after the famous Renaissance philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, this light blue cable and pylon bridge is the city’s most iconic sight. Erasmus Bridge connects the older north side of Rotterdam to its developing South. It also consists of Europe’s largest drawbridge.
You can always glance at the majestic Erasmus bridge from afar. However, nothing beats taking a boat tour to the port to get the best shots. It’s also best viewed at night when it’s lit up and the water reflects the buildings surrounding it.
5. De Rotterdam
De Rotterdam is another spectacular architectural gem in the city, designed by the world-famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, De Rotterdam. With 160,000 square meters of floor space, it is the largest building in the Netherlands. This impressive landmark on the Rotterdam waterfront consists of three towers (house flats, hotels, offices, shops, and restaurants) with a shared base. The building appears to shift when viewed by a moving car.
6. Het Witte Huis
Het Witte Huis (The White House) might be a lot smaller compared to De Rotterdam but it still stands out compared to other modernist buildings — thank’s to its old-world Art Noveau façade and its history. Het Witte Huis is characterized by its fairy-tale turrets, beautiful mosaics, and stone sculptures.
This ten-story building built in 1898 was also Europe’s first-ever skyscraper and is recognized today as a National Heritage Site.
7. Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
Rotterdam might be dominated by modern skyscrapers and quirky contemporary architecture but it still has a few remnants from the distant past. One of the most important structures is Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (Great St. Lawrence Church), which is all that’s left of Rotterdam’s medieval buildings.
Most of the medieval structures were destroyed during WWII, so we can consider this late Gothic church dating from the 15th century as a treasured gem.
8. Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen & Depot Boijmans
This museum is one of the Netherlands’ (and even Europe’s) most significant art centers, renowned for its exquisite collections of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from across Europe.
Located right next to the world-famous museum is the modern Depot Boijmans, which is scheduled to open this fall 2021. The contemporary building will store the museum’s entire collection of over 150,000 artworks.
What’s your favorite architectural gem from our top picks? We’d love to hear about the best attractions you’ll visit first when you visit the lovely city of Rotterdam.