Holland’s Jazzed Up Port City
Rotterdam, until recently, was the world's largest port. This seaside location helped to grow the city into the largest economic center in The Netherlands at the turn of the twentieth century. Bombing ripped out the heart of the city during WWII, and instead of aiming to rebuild what was lost as many other leveled cities have done, the City Council took the opportunity to create a new and better city instead.
Although close to 50% of the population of Rotterdam today is not native to the Netherlands, you can still find a "can do" mentality in its people. This thrust toward modernity is on display in the architecture around the city. The Kijk-Kubis – or Museum House, is a fully furnished showcase house among an unusual collection of cube-shaped homes. The interior was specially developed to give visitors an impression of how it's possible to live in a cube house with sloping walls.
The Kunsthal Rotterdam is designed by famed avant-garde architect (and native son) Rem Koolhaas. The building is as much the destination as what's housed inside. The museum stages some 25 exhibitions a year in a wide range of disciplines: new art, design, photography, and frequently experiments with themes never seen before. Like lingerie.
For aural art, the annual North Sea Jazz Festival is held every second week of July. Founded by a wealthy businessman and jazz lover, the fest began in 1976 and was an immediate success. The event has grown to 15 stages, 1200 artists and nearly 25,000 visitors a day, and is known for the many musical styles it presents: from traditional New Orleans jazz to funk and soul. Past performers include Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie.
Just east of Rotterdam, the windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the most beloved and best-known Dutch attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Accessible by boat, you'll learn more about their fascinating history while on board. With a Holland Pass, your journey is included, not to mention vouchers for free entrance into your choice of five museums in Holland, plus 25 discount vouchers to use at other major attractions in the country and so much more.
Rotterdam train station connects you to cities all over The Netherlands. You won't be blue in charming Delft – just 12 minutes away. The Hague can be seen in 24 minutes and cheese-y Gouda in 18. Even Amsterdam is just 43 minutes away thanks to the high-speed Fyra. With such proximity to each other, a Eurail Benelux Pass is ideal for saving time and money.
You can also use this pass to get to Antwerp in 30 minutes and Brussels in just over an hour. If you want an architectural contrast to Rotterdam, Paris is less than three hours away on Thalys.
Rotterdam may not be on your list of cities to see in The Netherlands. There are no charming canals, precious porcelains or beaches. But this is a city that for centuries ruled the waterways of the world. Rotterdam is a city that demands to be navigated. Once on its terra firma, you'll feel its power – like the waves of the open sea.
Contributed by: Renate, our Dutch employee who has worked in various departments of the company and traveled on many trains in Europe, especially through the BeNeLux countries.