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If Holland's past endures in Amsterdam's fabled waterways and historic row houses, its future are available in the gleaming high rises and office towers of Rotterdam. Carrying out a devastating explosive device raid in The Second World War that nearly completely equalized the town, Rotterdam has risen from the own ashes being the among the biggest seaports on the planet -- and also the driving pressure behind the Netherlander economy. Rotterdam charms visitors and cruisers with its contemporary skyline, dramatic bridges, and warm vibe.
 
You are able to believe that feeling of energy and industry the moment your ship pulls into Rotterdam's huge deep-water harbor, which is almost a town on its own. Little tugboats steam quickly past heavily laden river barges, while freighters unload cargo crates into stacks that stretch like structures in the docks toward heaven. The south and north banks from the river, both lined rich in-increases, are linked through the dramatic spans of two cable bridges -- such as the asymmetrical Erasmus bridge, a town landmark.
 
The second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam lies on both banks of the Nieuwe Maas, the tidal southern arm of the Rhine, where it's joined by the little River Rotte. It's also the world's largest port, home to the massive Europoort facility through which so much freight passes on its way to and from the continent.
 
Rotterdam began in 1340, but you'd don't know it by searching at present day modern skyline. Although almost completely destroyed by German air attacks in 1940, central Rotterdam was energetically rebuilt after the war and re-planned with modern shopping streets, residential districts, and high-rises, making it one of the most modern and architecturally interesting cities in Europe. Despite it's modernity, the city dates back to medieval times and was already prosperous by the 13th century when a dam was built to separate the Rotte from the Nieuwe Maas (hence the city's name). Rotterdam has also long been important as a cultural hub, its early prosperity leading to the birth of Rotterdam's most celebrated citizen, the humanist Erasmus, born here in 1467. Today, it's as popular a destination for its vibrant entertainment options as it is for its many fine museums and splendid architecture.
 
Holland Americakade throughout the very first 70 many years of the twentieth Century, Rotterdam's Holland Amerikakade (Holland America Quay) was the appearance and departure point for ships between your Netherlands and foreign ports--most particularly Hoboken, Nj, which offered the brand new You are able to market.
 
For that first-time visitors, it may be jarring to determine steel and cement rather than waterways and cobblestones. But what Rotterdam lacks in historic charm it comprises for in cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and sunny pavement balconies ideal for taking pleasure in a Netherlander beer or two. And also the past is not entirely forgotten look carefully enough and you will unearth a couple of remains from the city's history, just like a 20's statehouse, a 15th-century chapel along with a 400-year-old statue of Erasmus -- a ghost in the past who appears to smile benevolently upon Rotterdam's vibrant future.
 
Where You are Docked
The terminal is located right in the heart of downtown Rotterdam. Cruise ships dock at a cruise terminal by the old Holland America headquarters on the south end of Erasmusbrug bridge. The historic terminal is modernized, fully equipped and with an automatic, covered boarding bridge. The building itself houses a tourist information desk and during calls various stands offering time-honored Dutch handicrafts such as wooden shoe making and hindeloopen painting as well as antiques, souvenirs and much more. In 2013 it will have a new hotel with café, restaurants, theatre and shopping centre next to the terminal.
 
Most ships dock at the main cruise terminal on Wilhelminakade located across the Erasmus Bridge from the city center. Smaller ships dock closer to downtown along Boompjes, between the Erasmus and Willems bridges. However, with the larger number of riverboats plying the waterways, boats can often be moored further down the Maas past the Willems Bridge.
 
Wilhelminaplein metro station is nearby. Shuttles are usually provided to get you to the city center dropping off in front of city hall.
 
The cruise port of Rotterdam is progressively attaining in importance being an attractive place to go for cruise passengers. Most ships pier in the primary cruise terminal on Wilhelminakade, over the Erasmus Bridge in the city center. More compact ships pier nearer to downtown along Boompjes, between your Erasmus and Willems bridges.
 
However, using the bigger quantity of riverboats playing the rivers, motorboats can frequently be moored further lower the Maas beyond the Willems Bridge. Cruise terminal is situated right in the middle of downtown Rotterdam.
 
The historic terminal is up-to-date, fully outfitted with a computerized, covered boarding bridge. Your building itself houses a tourist information desk and throughout calls various stands offering time-honored.
 
Netherlander crafts for example wooden shoe making and  painting in addition to antiques, souvenirs plus much more. In 2013 it'll have a brand new hotel with café, restaurants, theater and shopping center near the terminal. It is a two-story building by having an escalator, elevator, toilets, a glass-enclosed boarding bridge, shops, along with other services for vacationers.
 
Local Transportation
Besides a few vendors offering local handicrafts and souvenirs, there's not too much to see inside the main cruise terminal. However, the Nederlands Fotomuseum is within easy walking distance in the Las Palmas building on Wilhelminakade. You can also walk to the top of the Erasmus Bridge for a view of the Rotterdam skyline and the activities in the city's busy port. Major downtown attractions are about 30 minutes away on foot; alternatives include taxis, water taxis, buses and the Metro.
 
From the smaller dock at Boompjes, you're only about a 20-minute walk from downtown. There's not much near the dock besides a few waterfront restaurants.

Getting Around
Rotterdam is small and easily walkable. You can take the metro to see sites further out or the train to visit Amsterdam. Metro fares are €3.50 (2 hours by bus, tram and metro), €2.50 (travel 1 hour by bus and tram), €5 (2 journey by metro), or €7 for a day pass (fares Dec 2011). http://www.ret.nl
Getting to Amsterdam
 
Trains to Amsterdam run frequently from Rotterdam Centraal to Amsterdam Centraal and the journey takes between 45 minutes to over an hour depending on the stops along the way. Fare is €13.40 one way (Dec 2011). Check schedules here http://www.ns.nl/
 
On Foot: It will take at least 30 minutes to get from the main cruise terminal to the city center, but once you're there, many of Rotterdam's attractions are within walking distance of each other.
 
By Taxi: Both regular taxis and water taxis are available just outside the cruise terminal. For those passengers disembarking at the smaller dock, ask someone at your ship's reception desk to call a cab for you. You'll find taxi stands in busy locations throughout the city, particularly near Metro stations. You can also call the Rotterdam Taxi Centre at +31 10-462-6060.
 
By Public Transportation: A regular shuttle bus service takes passengers from the main cruise terminal into downtown Rotterdam. The Wilhelminaplein Metro station is also within walking distance of the cruise terminal.
 
Trams, buses and subway trains operate throughout the city. An OV chip card is required to ride Rotterdam's public transport and can be purchased at sales booths, ticket machines, information kiosks in metro stations, post offices and a handful of other locations. Options include an unlimited one-day ticket, travel pass for one or two hours, and a travel pass for two for one hour. The same ticket is valid on buses, trams and trains.
 
By Bike: Rotterdam is a bike-friendly city, with special lanes for cyclists on most streets. As in all of the Netherlands you can rent a bike at the central train station; just look for the Fietsenstalling sign. By Car: We don't recommend renting a car; you can easily see the sights in town on foot or by using public transportation, and efficient train service is available to nearby towns like Delft and Ghent. However, if you do choose to rent a car, Avis, Budget and Europcar have downtown rental locations.
 
Note: If you're planning on parking on the street in Rotterdam, be aware that the meters don't take cash. Instead, you must pay with a prepaid "chip card," available in stores all over the city. Some ticket machines also take credit cards.
 
Attractions

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
Great St. Lawrence Church - Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk - is all that's left of Rotterdam's medieval buildings, most of which were destroyed during WWII. In Grote Kerkplein, Sint-Laurenskerk dates from the 15th century and was built on once marshy ground giving the building a peculiar lean that was only halted after its foundation was rebuilt in 1650. Upon entering the church, you'll be struck by the beauty of the bright interior, an effect heightened by the colored glass of its windows. The church is famous for its three Danish organs, the largest of which stands on a marble base on the inside wall of the tower. The bronze doors of the main entrance, on the theme of War and Peace, are by the Italian artist Giacomo Manzu, and in front of the church is a statue of Rotterdam's most famous son, Erasmus. Guided tours and special tower climbs are available.Address: Grotekerkplein 15, Rotterdam

Museum Boymans-van Beuningen
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, one of the Netherlands' most important art establishments, is known around the world for its superb collections of paintings, sculptures, and applied and decorative arts from across Europe. Painters of the 14th to 16th centuries are particularly well represented, with works by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The 17th century is represented by Rembrandt and Rubens (26 of the latter's works can be viewed), while later centuries are represented by Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Contemporary painters represented include Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall. Another museum of note is the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, an ethnographic museum established in 1883 with excellent displays of artifacts from ancient and modern cultures from around the world. Address: Museumpark 18, 3015 CX Rotterdam -- Official site: www.boijmans.nl/en/

Kinderdijk's Windmills
On the River Noord just 23 kilometers east of Rotterdam is the beautiful little village of Kinderdijk (the "children's dyke"). Taking its name from a famous legend that describes a baby's cradle being stranded here during the St. Elizabeth's Day flood of 1421, it's one of the most visited places in the Netherlands thanks to its 19 perfectly preserved 18th-century windmills, each designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1722 and 1761, together they comprise the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the country, a history that's celebrated during special Mill Days when their sails are once again set in motion.
 
The Euromast
One of Rotterdam's most distinctive landmarks, the Euromast lies at the north entrance to the Maas Tunnel. Erected in 1960, this 185-meter-high tower boasts two restaurants with superb views over Rotterdam, each at the 92-meter mark. For thrill seekers looking for more than just great views there's the chance to abseil down the building, while those looking for a unique overnight stay can book one of two stunning suites located at the 100-meter point. (English language guided tours are available.) Address: Parkhaven 20, 3016 GM Rotterdam. Official site: www.euromast.nl/en
 
Better by Design: The Cube Houses
Rotterdam is home to many fine examples of modern architecture, much of it inspired by the city's waterside setting as well as a response to the devastation of WWII. Pushing the architectural envelope to the max are the city's famous Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen). Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, this block of houses with their unique cube-shaped upper stories can be enjoyed as part of a walking tour of the city (one of them, the Show Cube, is open to the curious and contains displays regarding the design and history of the buildings). Another architectural gem is the White House (Witte Huis). Once Europe's tallest building, this stunning ten-story Art Nouveau structure was built in 1898 and is now a National Heritage Site with superb views from its rooftop. Finally, those with an interest in the design of buildings should visit the Netherlands Architecture Institute, home to a superb museum outlining the development of various architectural movements over the decades. Address: Overblaak 70, 3011 MH Rotterdam -- Official site: www.kubuswoning.nl/introkubuseng.html

Erasmus Bridge
Rotterdam's massive port occupies half the city's total area of 247 square kilometers, much of it in turn occupied by Europoort, a huge complex known as the Gateway to Europe. It's a fascinating area to visit as part of a boat tour, and numerous tourist options are available sailing from various locations around Rotterdam, often in conjunction with tours of other parts of the city. In addition to countless massive ships, you'll see mile after mile of quays and storage facilities built to service the world's busiest port. One of the most popular excursions begins at Maeslantkering near Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) and includes a close-up look at the city's massive surge barrier. Evening tours are also fun, especially with Rotterdam's most famous landmarks, including the superb Erasmus Bridge, being spectacularly illuminated.
 
Diergaarde Blijdorp: The Royal Zoo
Established in 1857 - and one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands - Rotterdam's Royal Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) makes for a very pleasant outing. The zoo is well known for its successful breeding programs, highlights of which include a number of young elephants, as well as the rare red panda, fascinating creatures to watch as they explore the large enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitats. Other features of note are the Asian section, complete with a swamp forest with two large aviaries for exotic birds, a Mongolian steppe, a bat cave, a Chinese garden, and numerous creatures indigenous to the region. Also worth exploring is the Oceanium, an excellent aquarium featuring a large collection of marine life from the Americas. Address: Blijdorplaan 8, 3041 JE Rotterdam -- Official site: www.diergaardeblijdorp.nl/?lang=EN

Sea-Themed Museums and the City Center
Established in 1873, Maritime Museum Rotterdam provides a fascinating look into the city's connection to the sea and its many waterways. The museum boasts a large collection of material on the history of shipping and seafaring, including ship models, a reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old vessel, and numerous seafaring paintings. Another marine-related tourist attraction is the adjoining Harbor Museum, an open-air facility that's home to the wonderfully preserved 19th-century Buffel, an ironclad ram ship, as well as an old lightship (all told, more than 20 historic vessels are on display). Both facilities offer English language guided tours. A recent addition to Rotterdam's roster of important old vessels is the SS Rotterdam, launched in 1958 and considered the finest Dutch-built passenger vessel. A truly memorable experience is taking lunch or dinner aboard this sumptuously decorated vessel, which is now a hotel and museum.
 
Walk about eight minutes north from the Maritime Museum and you'll come to Coolsingel, the main street of Rotterdam's city center. Here, you'll find the Town Hall (Stadhuis), built between 1914 and 1920 in Dutch Renaissance style, with a handsome tower graced by a carillon and a richly decorated interior. Opposite the Town Hall, in Stadhuisplein, is a war memorial designed by Mari Andriessen. Other Coolsingel highlights include the World Trade Center, a high-rise building with a facade of greenish-blue glass, and the Bijenkorf ("Beehive") department store (by Marcel Breuer, 1958). Fronting Bijenkorf is the 26-meter-high work of sculpture, Construction (1957), by Naum Gabo, a French sculptor of Russian origin. Wander a few blocks northwest from Bijenkorf, and you'll come to De Doelen, a concert hall and congress center rebuilt in 1966 after its destruction in 1940. It offers seating for 2,200 and excellent acoustics. Nearby is the Schouwburg (Municipal Theater), which opened in 1988. Address: Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam -- Official site: www.maritiemmuseum.nl/en

Kunsthal: Rotterdam's Art Hall
Another example of Rotterdam's modern-yet-functional architecture is the Kunsthal, or Art Hall. This trendy gallery opened in 1992 and hosts a variety of constantly changing exhibits of visual arts, design, architecture, and culture from across the globe. Another gallery of note is the Chabot Museum featuring the works of Dutch painter and sculptor Henk Chabot, housed in a superb white villa built in 1938. For those with an interest in photography, a visit to the Netherlands Photo Museum (Nederlands Fotomuseum) is time well spent; highlights include a broad collection of historical images by numerous Dutch photographers. Address: Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, 3015 AA Rotterdam -- Official site: www.kunsthal.nl/en-2-Kunsthal-Rotterdam.html

The Church of Our Lady (Grote Kerk), Dordrecht
About 24 kilometers southwest of Rotterdam in the town of Dordrecht, the Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk) has one of the most picturesque settings of any Dutch church. Built on the site of an earlier 15th-century church, it overlooks a quaint canal that dissects the old town center. As a result of a fault in construction, the tower began to sink, resulting in its present half-finished appearance (it was later topped by four Baroque clock faces and a carillon of 49 bells). Interior highlights include its magnificent oak choir-stalls, carved in Renaissance style in 1541 and the finest of their kind in the Netherlands, along with stained glass windows depicting important events in the town's history. Also of note is the large organ, built in 1671 and decorated with the coats of arms of Dordrecht. Afterwards, be sure to explore Dordrecht itself, famous for its many surviving historic buildings such as the Old Town Hall (Stadhuis) from 1544. Address: Groenmarkt, Dordrecht

Delfshaven and the Pilgrim Fathers
The old district of Delfshaven, which unlike much of Rotterdam survived WWII largely unscathed, is consequently one of the most popular spots in this big bustling city. Famous as the birthplace of Admiral Piet Hein, a 16th-century hero of the country's long war against Spain, it's also where, in the Old Church (Oude Kerk), the last service was held in 1620 by the Pilgrim Fathers before sailing for the New World (the event is commemorated with a memorial and bronze tablet). Also worth visiting is Dubbelde Palmboom Museum housed in a 19th-century warehouse containing a large collection of material on the history of Rotterdam, including archaeological finds, implements, and equipment.
 
Schoonhoven
Schoonhoven, halfway between Rotterdam and Utrecht, is a wonderful excursion due to its many superbly preserved medieval buildings. A must-see is St. Bartholomeuskerk, founded in the 13th century and notable for its tendency to lean off the vertical, and its stalls carved with scenes from the life of Christ. Other features are the 17th-century pulpit with its figures of the 12 Apostles, and the tomb of Olivier van Noort, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the globe in the early 1600s. The Schoonhoven Town Hall (Stadhuis) is also worth a look. Built in 1452 in Late Gothic style but much altered in later centuries, it possesses a domed hexagonal tower containing a carillon of 50 bells. Other town highlights include the picturesque Weigh House (Waag) from 1617 on top of a dam above the harbor; the Gold, Silver, and Clock Museum (Nederlands Goud-, Ziver- en Klokkenmuseum) with its displays relating to the crafts of gold- and silversmithing and clock making; and the Edelambachtshuis, a granary built in 1566 that now houses a collection of jewelry from the 1600s to the 1900s.
 
Markiezenhof Palace
Many pleasant excursions await within an easy commute of Rotterdam. One of the most popular is Bergen op Zoom, a historic old town some 67 kilometers south that is noted for its large squares and pleasant pedestrian zones. It's also where you'll find Markiezenhof Palace, a 15th-century mansion that now houses a cultural center and museum with numerous fine paintings and period furniture. Also worth a visit are Breda, 52 kilometers southeast of Rotterdam, with its museums and monuments, and the town of Gorinchem, 44 kilometers to the east. Another must-see is the Witches Weighhouse (Museum de Waag) in Oudewater, famous for once having been used to weigh those suspected of witchcraft; if you were considered light enough to ride a broomstick, the theory was that you were a witch (fortunately for the women of Oudewater, none of the accused were considered light enough to be punished). About 70 kilometers from Rotterdam, Zierikzee on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland lures tourists with its yacht harbor, a picturesque old town center, and beautiful beaches fringed by wooded dunes

Dining out
in Rotterdam affords visitors a chance to try Michelin-star dining, traditional Dutch food, and a range of world and fusion cuisines that complement the city's status as a great international port. The waterfront along the Nieuwe Maas River boasts a variety of chic dining possibilities.Eating Out.
With so many ships docking in Rotterdam from all around the world, it's no surprise that there's such a diverse range of dining options here, from French to Indonesian. (For better or worse, this panoply also includes a surprisingly large number of McDonald's restaurants.) For a happy medium between fine dining and fast food, try one of the city's many pubs, where you can while away a sunny afternoon at an outdoor terrace, local brew in hand.
 
Rotterdam's best Indonesian cuisine is on the menu at the elegant Dewi Sri, located along the waterfront a few blocks from the Euromast. This is a great option for vegetarians, who can enjoy options like vegetable salad topped with a peanut sauce, and fried tofu and bean sprouts in a spicy sauce. There are also plenty of delicious beef- and pork-based dishes. (Westerkade 20; open Monday to Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; +31 10-436-0263)
 
Located a few blocks from Museum Park, where most of the city's main museums are located, is the Nieuw Rotterdam Cafe, or NR Cafe, a perfect spot to stop for lunch after touring the Boijmans van Beuningen Art Museum or Kunsthal. A large menu, both for lunch and dinner, is reasonably priced and features everything from pastries, soups and salads to sandwiches and pasta. (Witte de Withstraat 63, open from 10:00 a.m. daily except for Sundays from 11:00 a.m.; +31 10 414-4188)
 
The innovative French dishes at Parkheuvel have long made it one of Rotterdam's most celebrated restaurants. You can't beat its convenient location in Museum Park, or the scenic view of the Maas River from its outdoor terrace. (Heuvellaan 21; open Monday to Friday, noon to 2:30 p.m.; +31 10-436-0530)
 
For informal dining in Delfshaven, try Stadsbrouwerij de Pelgrim, a working brewery where you can toast your trip with a delicious local beer. The food is a little pricey for pub fare, but it's worth it for the lovely view of the Delfshaven canal from the outdoor terrace. (Aelbrechtskolk 12; open daily from noon; +31 10-477-1189)
 
Shopping
Shop till you drop in Rotterdam. Cutting-edge fashion is the thing in boutiques on and around cool Witte de Withstraat. On the Lijnbaan car-free shopping promenade, you'll find dozens of small fashion boutiques. The historic Delfshaven area is a storehouse for antiques.
 
For sexy designer lingerie, head to Marlies Dekkers, Witte de Withstraat 2 (tel. 010/280-9184; www.marliesdekkers.nl; Metro: Eendrachtsplein), which stands out on cool Witte de Withstraat not so much for its location in a tastefully converted former bank building, as for the hot lingerie and beachwear from the Dutch designer's Undressed collection in the window. Chic fashion boutique Prague, Van Oldenbarneveltstraat 119B (tel. 010/213-1748; www.prague-by-louis-dijksman.nl; Metro: Eendrachtsplein), trades intimacy for the space to showcase the creations, for men and women, of a multitude of intriguing fashion designers -- the list is headed by Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, and Haider Ackerman, and extends to little-known Japanese designers.
 
Department stores are located on Coolsingel and Hoogstraat. The classy De Bijenkorf department store, Coolsingel 105 (tel. 0900/0919; www.bijenkorf.nl; Metro: Beurs), has five floors selling women's and men's fashions and accessories, cosmetics, household items, books, toys, CDs, DVDs, and more. Its bright continental restaurant La Ruche is worth visiting. On one side, it opens onto the new Beurstraverse shopping mall, which runs below street level and has a mix of chain stores and small stores.
 
With more than 12,000 different products on its shelves, the large supermarket Gimsel, Mariniersweg 9-33 (tel. 010/404-7342; www.degroenepassage.nl; Metro: Blaak or Oostplein), takes shopping for "bio" food and drink far beyond its cottage-industry roots. This is just one of the organic or alternative stores in the Groene Passage green shopping center. Close to Rotterdam's curious Cube Houses, De Man van Drank, Hoogstraat 54A (tel. 010/411-2879; www.bierenco.nl; Metro: Blaak or Oostplein), stocks a vast selection of beers of distinction, including all the main Dutch beers and those from microbreweries, along with Belgian, German, English, American, and more, plus seasonal, rare, and real ales.
 
On the trendy south bank of the Nieuwe Maas, the Entrepot, a 19th-century bonded warehouse, enjoys a new lease on life. In a place that defines the idea of fun shopping, you find distinct colonial overtones at Jumbo, Vijf Werelddelen 33 (tel. 010/280-9888), the city's largest supermarket. A colonnade of diverse restaurants overlooks a small marina and faces a row of interior design stores.
 
Back in the center city, a huge general market brings alive the Binnenrotte area on Tuesday and Saturday. Part of the market (still 200 stalls!) opens from May to December on Sunday afternoon. Lovers of antiques, bric-a-brac, and old books should make their way to the Sunday market (Metro: Leuvehaven) amid the mini-Manhattan architecture on Schiedamsedijk, along Leuvehaven harbor in the center of town; the market is open mid-May to mid-September Sunday from 11am to 5pm.




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