History

Rotterdam’s history began around the site of today’s Binnenrotte street. It was here that a dam was built on the river Rotte about the year 1270 and a small fishing village was created. Trade and shipping flourished, causing ‘Rotterdam’ to grow quickly. Between 1866 and 1872, the Nieuwe Waterweg canal was constructed to improve Rotterdam’s accessibility from the sea and the city became a real international hub. On 14 May 1940, during the Second World War, practically the whole of the old city centre was destroyed in the Rotterdam blitz. As a memorial to the disaster, special red street lighting marks the extent of the devastating fire which followed the bombardment.

The people of Rotterdam rolled up their sleeves and got to work: two weeks after the war, they began the process of reconstruction. The city had the courage to radically break with the past and made a daring choice for spacious town planning and modern architecture. The keynote was light, air and space. Rotterdam has remained a trendsetter to this day, ensuring that the city keeps its ultra-modern feel. The desire to go for innovation is still typical of the people of Rotterdam. The city’s skyline is praised throughout the world as a paean to modern architecture.