Interesting facts about Rotterdam


Rotterdam is the 2nd largest city and municipality in the Netherlands.

It is situated about 30 km (19 miles) from the North Sea, to which it is linked by a canal called the New Waterway.

As of January 2020, the population of Rotterdam is about 655,000 people.

The Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area, with a population of approximately 2.7 million, is the 10th-largest in the European Union and the most populous in the country.

The city covers a total area of 324 square kilometers (125 square miles).


The settlement at the lower end of the fen stream Rotte (or Rotta, as it was then known, from rot, “muddy” and a, “water”, thus “muddy water”) dates from at least 900 AD.

A dam on the Rotte was built in the 1260s and was located at the present-day Hoogstraat (“High Street”).

The name Rotterdam was first mentioned in 1283, when a small tract of reclaimed land was created by draining the mouth of the Rotte River (another distributary in the Rhine River delta).

Rotterdam developed as a fishing village and was chartered in 1328. In 1340 the town received permission to dig a canal to the Schie (another tributary of the New Meuse River), and it became the major port of the province.

rotterdam history

In the 17th century, when the discovery of the sea route to the Indies gave an enormous impetus to Dutch commerce and shipping, Rotterdam expanded its harbours and accommodations along the Meuse. Before the end of the century it was, after Amsterdam, the second merchant city of the country.

Rotterdam adjusted to the changed circumstances after the French occupation, which, from 1795 until the fall of Napoleon in 1815, halted most trade.


Transit trade grew more important, and between 1866 and 1872 the New Waterway was dug from Rotterdam to the North Sea to accommodate larger oceangoing steamships.

Between 1906 and 1930 Rotterdam’s Waal Harbour was built – it became the largest dredged harbour in the world.

During World War I, the city was the world’s largest spy centre because of Dutch neutrality and its strategic location in between Britain, Germany and German-occupied Belgium.

rotterdam balck and white photo

During World War II Rotterdam’s city centre and more than one-third of the port’s facilities were destroyed by the Germans.

Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt from the 1950s through to the 1970s.

Today, the city is known for its university, riverside setting, lively cultural life, maritime heritage and modern architecture.

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk or St. Lawrence Church is a Protestant church in Rotterdam. It is the only remnant of the medieval city of Rotterdam. The church was built between 1449 and 1525. In the Rotterdam Blitz on May 14, 1940 the Laurenskerk was heavily damaged. In 1952, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands laid the foundation stone for the restoration, which was completed in 1968.

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk

Cube houses are a set of innovative houses. They were designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”: high density housing with sufficient space on the ground level, since its main purpose is to optimise the space inside. Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a
village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest. The central idea of the cube houses around the world is mainly optimizing the space, as a house, to
a better distribution of the rooms inside.

cube houses

Euromast is an observation tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands, designed by Hugh Maaskant constructed between 1958 and 1960. It was specially built for the 1960 Floriade, and is a listed monument since 2010. At 101 m (331 ft) in height it was the tallest building in Rotterdam. It lost this position to the high-rise of Erasmus MC (113.5 m / 372 ft) which was completed in 1968.


Erasmusbrug is a combined cable-stayed and bascule bridge, construction began in 1986 and was completed in 1996. It crosses the Nieuwe Maas in the centre of Rotterdam, connecting the north and south parts of this city, second largest in the Netherlands. The bridge was named in 1992 after Desiderius Erasmus, a prominent Christian Renaissance humanist also known as Erasmus of Rotterdam. The Erasmus Bridge is Rotterdam’s most important landmark and is even part of the city’s official logo.


Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is an art museum in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It is located at the Museumpark in the district Rotterdam Centrum, close to the Kunsthal and the Natural History Museum. The museum opened in 1849. In the collection, ranging from medieval to contemporary art, are works of Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí.

museum boijmans van beuningen

The Netherlands Photo Museum is a photography museum in Rotterdam. It was founded in 1989. The museum collection consists of many historical, social and cultural images from the 20th and 21st century, from the Netherlands and elsewhere. It has control over more than 150 archives (three million plus images) taken by Dutch photographers.

netherlands photo museum

The Maritime Museum Rotterdam is a maritime museum in Rotterdam. Dedicated to naval history, it was founded in 1874 by Prince Henry of the Netherlands. Next to the Maritime Museum lies the open-air Maritime Museum Harbour, which merged with the Maritime Museum in 2014. The Maritime Museum Harbour contains an exceptional collection of historic vessels and cranes which are maintained in working condition.

maritime museum rotterdam

One of the most popular gathering points in Rotterdam is the impressive Market Hall, a huge office complex that opened in 2014. Nicknamed “Koopboog” (Horseshoe) by locals, it’s an architectural marvel, with the soaring arched ceiling of its food hall covered in larger-than-life murals of vegetables, fish, and other produce, celebrating the fact the market itself is a kaleidoscope of fresh and prepared foods.

market hall

Diergaarde Blijdorp officially Rotterdam Zoo, is a zoo located in the northwestern part of Rotterdam. It is one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. Divided into several zoogeographic regions, the 26-hectare (64.25-acre) Blijdorp Zoo boasts well over 180 species. It also has a shop, multiple cafes, and an information centre.

diergaarde blijdorp

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe. From 1962 until 2004 it was the world’s busiest port, now overtaken first by Singapore and then Shanghai.

The extensive distribution system including rail, roads, and waterways have earned Rotterdam the nicknames “Gateway to Europe” and “Gateway to the World”.

Christianity is the largest religion in Rotterdam, with 31.1% of the population identifying.