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November 2013
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The Manhattan of the Netherlands!

From top to bottom and left to right: View and skyline of Rotterdam's port. Photo 1 © Ossip van Duivenbode, 2, 4, 5 6, 7 © Ludovic Bischoff , 3 © Marc Heeman and 8 © Claire Droppert

Nicknamed the “Manhattan of the Netherlands” due to its dynamic skyline, Rotterdam is brings together a range of architectural styles. But if it’s true that the second largest city in the Netherlands became the playground and experimentation of many of the world’s greatest architects, it is due to the fact that it was so badly affected by the bombing during the Second World War. Apart from the central post office, almost all the buildings in the city-center were left in total ruin. Instead of reconstructing the traditional houses of the country, the Dutch decided to look to the future and let the architects reinvent the city. Over the decades, they have provided, stroke by stroke, their tribute to what has become a kind of living museum of architecture. In addition, the Architectural Institute of the Netherlands (NAI) is installed in Rotterdam, which all but confirms its status as the architectural capital of the country. Walking through the streets, one passes by the small traditional Delfshaven canal with its old (and few) houses, facing a construction inspired by the Bauhaus, a Neo-Gothic building and several towers of glass and steel illuminated by the night.
One way to discover this varied city is by boarding a taxi boat to cruise the canals. You can pass under the spectacular Erasmus Bridge before disappearing into the harbor crammed with container ships and horizontal buildings, into a vertical city. This is an ideal way to discover the New York-esque skyline of R’dam. The alternative is to explore the city on foot or by bike. From the new central station where the Thalys (nicknamed “the shark” by the city’s inhabitants because of its dorsal fin!) arrives, one can start down the path paved with international sculptures that leads into the city center. In discovering the fifty sculptures, amongst which lies the sulfurous Santa Claus of Paul McCarthy, you can walk the streets where the buildings parade their eclectic style. A paradise for lovers of modern architecture…

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