Rotterdam - The City that Could Have Been Underwater

I really struggled to pick a title for my new article about Rotterdam as there is no single unique trait or fact that describes this extrao...

I really struggled to pick a title for my new article about Rotterdam as there is no single unique trait or fact that describes this extraordinary city. In fact, there are too many of them which makes it very difficult to pick just one. Here is some of those unique traits: the city with the most courageous architecture in the world, the biggest port in Europe, the most multicultural city in Europe, the city completely razed by Germans during the WWII, and so forth. But I chose the one that gave birth to Rotterdam - the mighty sea and the way people in the Netherlands managed to reclaim the land from the sea by building a wall. Without this sophisticated water control system, 80% of Rotterdam and at least one quarter of the Netherlands would have been submerged.

Many of you have probably watched the video called "America First, the Netherlands Second" that Dutch made to troll Donald Trump and his obsessive ideas such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Jokes aside, Dutch have in fact built the greatest wall or, to be precise, a system of dikes, dams and floodgates that keep the land out of reach from the sea. If you haven't watched the video, here it is:
But there is much more to experience in Rotterdam besides dikes and dams. Unfortunately, I only had about two hours to spend there during my stopover in Brussels (yes, you're right - Brussels is in Belgium and Rotterdam is in the Netherlands, but does it matter if someone is very determined?) as the train on the way to Rotterdam was suspended due to some emergency situation which delayed my entire trip for almost 2 hours. But nonetheless, I think I was able to cover most of what people usually see in Rotterdam. Below is my top 5 observations. I'm curious to know what your experience was like?

1. Provocative architecture. 
It's hard to underestimate how important the architecture is to Rotterdam. The city once looked pretty much like Amsterdam with all old buildings and cozy canals, but it's all ended on May 15th, 1940 by the event known as Rotterdam Blitz. This is how Rotterdam used to look like in 1895 (a painting by James Webb).
The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and requested the Dutch army forces surrender Rotterdam under a threat of bombing. Dutch eventually did hoping for the ceasefire, but the aerial bombing was still executed by Germans which completely wiped the central part of Rotterdam, killed 900 and displaced about 85,000 people. 
Why Germans didn't honour the deal remains controversial. 
But unlike other European cities such as Warsaw or Dresden that were rebuilt to look like they were before the WWII, Rotterdam took a different approach. It allowed architects to unleash their talent and experiment with different shapes, materials and colours which resulted in a mix of styles and looks in the city's architecture. 
This continues nowadays, too as Rotterdam is defining fashion trends in architecture.
What does not fit, gets demolished.
Old architecture is still seen here and there such as this Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk which was actually significantly rebuilt after the Blitz.
Some of the city's architectural highlights. Cube-houses by the world renowned Dutch architect Piet Blom. The complex of 40 houses was build in 1980s and is the most recognizable landmark in Rotterdam.
There is museum in one of those cubes for those who wants to see how it looks inside.
Maastoren across Nieuwe Mass River built in 2010 and is the tallest building in the Netherlands.
Witte Huis (White House) built in 1895 under the American influence. It was once the tallest skyscraper in Europe and surprisingly survived the Blitz of 1940.
De Rotterdam (behind Erasmus Bridge, a bit left from the centre), one of the newest additions to Rotterdam's cityscape.
Market Hall (Markthal) is half a residential house, half a market. 
Rotterdam's Central Library which resembles a waterpark (left) and Pencil Tower (Het Potlood, centre).

2. Green grass and moss are everywhere. 
Because Rotterdam is located by the sea and literally surrounded by water, it enjoys the oceanic climate with temperate and wet winters and cool summers. As a result, it's very green and mossy. Very similar to London, by the way.

3. Water, water, water. 
Located below the sea level, no wonder Rotterdam has so many canals and bodies of water.
Rotterdam has the largest cargo terminal in Europe.
Old school sailors.

4. Street Art. 
Street art such as murals or sculptures are as daring and sometimes bizarre as the architecture in Rotterdam.
Mix of classic and contemporary.
This one is my favourite. Look at the trees.

5. Cyclist's paradise. 
And last, but not least - Rotterdam is a very bicycle-friendly city. In fact, one third of people in the Netherlands regularly commute using their bicycles. It's the highest rate in the world!
And as a person who rides a bike often, I have to admit that the Netherlands is a cyclist's paradise. The road infrastructure (bike lanes, traffic lights, even bicycle highways) and a completely flat landscape make the Netherlands ideal for cycling. 
A bike trampoline park.

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