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Full of energy and innovation, Rotterdam reinvented itself after the bombing of the Second World War. It broke with the past and chose modern architecture. The motto: light, air and space, was ground breaking for that time. Rotterdam still embraces experimentation: almost anything is possible. Here, you are constantly surprised by new initiatives: from a rooftop city farm to a music festival in the harbour, from an exclusive rooftop bar to a brewery in an old warehouse. If you love architecture then a visit to Rotterdam - with its patchwork of architectural styles - is a must. Icons of the Nieuwe Bouwen era stand beside the typical reconstruction-architecture from the sixties, seventies and eighties. They clash cheerfully with the hypermodern landmarks that have been built in recent decennia: the Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam Central Station, De Rotterdam, the Timmerhuis and of course the Markthal.
Sailing through the port of Rotterdam, marveling at the exotic animals in Diergaarde Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo) or climbing the Laurenskerk tower: Rotterdam has an amazing variety of fun things to do for visitors of all ages.
As a port city, Rotterdam has unbreakable ties to the water, from the Maas River that flows right through the city to the many (historic) city harbours like Delfshaven. The city flows – courtesy of the Maas – seamlessly over into its industrial port that stretches for 40 kilometres to the Maasvlakte 2 and Hoek van Holland.
Rotterdam has a rich cultural scene centred largely around the cultural axis between Museumpark and Witte de Withstraat. This area includes acclaimed museums like Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal Rotterdam and The New Institute, where large and small (international) exhibitions for old and new art, design and photography are presented. The numerous galleries around Witte de Withstraat and the city centre are also well worth your time. You don't necessarily have to head indoors to see art in Rotterdam, though. Pablo Picasso, Joep van Lieshout, Henry Moore, Paul McCartney, Elmgreen & Dragset: masterpieces by the world's most famous artists can simply be visited in public in Rotterdam. If you love street art, feast your eyes on the beauties around the Luchtsingel pedestrian bridge and the Hofbogen arches, where major and impressive wall paintings by local artists are progressively covering the walls. Rotterdam also boasts many theatres, concert halls and arthouse cinemas where you go to be inspired and touched by (classical) music, theatre, cabaret, dance and musicals from local, national and international artists and companies. Fans of arthouse films can indulge themselves at the charming old Cinerama cinema, at the LantarenVenster movie house or the new small Kino movie theatre. Or visit Rotterdam in January during the global International Film Festival Rotterdam.
If you enjoy festivals, then Rotterdam is the place to be! Throughout the year there are festivals galore from small and intimate to downright spectacular. It's no surprise that Rotterdam has been voted as one of the best festival cities in the world several times. Rotterdam festivals are characterised by their daring, innovativeness and cosmopolitan character. They often take place at extraordinary venues like parks, old warehouses, rooftops and shipyards.
Shop till you drop! Whatever your style is and whatever you are looking for, Rotterdam is the place to be. Most shops in the city centre are open seven days a week. From trendy boutiques to megastores, from popular brand stores to the more tranquil, high-end fashion chique, you can find it all in Rotterdam. Let the shopping begin!
Whether you're in the mood for a quick but delicious hamburger or curious about the latest molecular cooking techniques, feel like dining at a spectacular location, or simply want to grab a beer from a local brewery, it's all easy to find in Rotterdam. From trendy coffee bars and organic lunchrooms to fancy cocktail bars, from stylish restaurants (with Michelin stars) to surprising eateries and adventurous fast food concepts, Rotterdam's culinary options are extensive, and interesting newcomers join the list every week.
Like so much else in Rotterdam – the architecture, the people, their cultures and customs – the city's nightlife is filled with contrasts. Glamorous cocktail bars and classic pubs, hip and happening dance clubs and intimate concert venues. Depending on what you like to do when you hit the town and what mood you're in, Rotterdam can offer you wildly different nights out. It's all up to you!
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