I have to admit I didn’t do much research on Rotterdam before coming here. I only knew that they had these Cube Houses, which looked interesting in the pictures and very ‘yellow’. So that’s the first thing I did after checking in to my hotel. I went out to look for the Cube Houses!
The Cube Houses
Ok – to be clear, these are real houses. People actually live here.
But… one of the residents decided to open his house to the public – for a fee…(smart right?). So you can actually visit and see what it’s like inside. You can also spend the night there – there is the StayOkay Hostel located in one of the mega cubes. Or you can try booking a whole apartment – I’ve seen residents advertising the apartment at Airbnb/Agoda.
In 1970, there was an attempt to revive the city, to make it more ‘exciting and modern’. Piet Blom, was commissioned to design a set of houses on top of a pedestrian bridge at the Blaak area.
The end product is the 38 cube-shaped houses tilted at 45 degrees set on a hexagon-shaped pylon. The houses are connected together with two supersized cubes at both ends of the string. Each house has three floors with a living space of around 100 square meters (close to 1,100 sft).
It’s actually a good size for an apartment. Just that with no straight wall in the house, owners have to be creative in putting in fixtures and fittings in the units.
A short walk from the Cube Houses, you will find yourself face to face with this amazing building. It combines a living space, an indoor market area, restaurants and below-ground parking spaces.
The building is huge – and you probably won’t realise it but it houses 228 apartments. I thought it was just some kind of market area with restaurants when I walked in into the building.
At the sides of the hall, the ground and first floor accommodate 20 retail units, restaurants and cafés. There is also a supermarket one the first underground level.
One thing that will catch your eye when you enter the building is the large mural covering the vaulted interior. The mural by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam show massively enlarged images of food, flowers and insects, referencing to Dutch still-life paintings from the 17th century. It’s just amazing – because outside everything is grey – but when you step inside, there is this burst of colour.
Food! Glorious Food!
On the ground floor – you will find fresh food stalls offering seafood, meats, cooked meals, desserts, coffee, cheese – I just loved the place. You can spend hours and hours there…In fact, I think I did.
The Markthal holds 102 rental apartments and 126 freehold apartments, including 24 penthouses. The apartments range from two (860 sft) to five bedrooms (3,200 sft). Every apartment has a view towards either the River Maas or the Laurenskerk, and also into the market hall itself. You can see from the balconies of the apartments on this picture.
Anyway – between the Cube House and the Markthal – I would prefer to stay here. Food is easily accessible which is not a good thing in my case really!
Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
WWII destroyed most of the medieval buildings in Rotterdam. This 15th-century Gothic church – Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, is all that’s left of Rotterdam’s medieval buildings. The church was badly damaged with all the bombings but was fully restored later on. The church is famous for its Danish organs, the biggest in the Netherlands, the Marcussenorgan. The church is used also as concert venues – jazz, pop etc.
Other Sights to Take In
Town Hall (Stadhuis)
Erasmusbrug - "The Swan"
Locals call the bridge “The Swan” because of its shape. It’s an 800m long bridge – with a good pedestrian path, very do-able if you want to cross over on foot. I didn’t think much of the bridge at first (like I said – didn’t do much research on Rotterdam before I got there), but I have seen some beautiful photos taken with the bridge in the background.
Shopping & Dining
I stayed at Hilton Rotterdam which was at the corner of the city’s two main streets, Coolsingel and Weena – this area is great for restaurants and shopping. You can find many international and local brands here; think after I discovered the shopping district, I kind of got stuck there!