Aerial Photographs Habour of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second largest city of the Netherlands and is situated in the province of South-Holland. In the year 2013 the city had almost 620,000 inhabitants. The city of Rotterdam consists of eight districts, a harbour and an industrial area. Some of its boroughs are situated so close to Rotterdam, that it seems like the boroughs form one large city. The region of Rotterdam consists of fourteen boroughs and has 1.1 million inhabitants. Rotterdam lies along both banks of the New Meuse (Nieuwe Maas) river and the New Waterway (Nieuwe Waterweg), and throughout the Botlek area.

New Erasmus Bridge shaping the skyline of Rotterdam
Erasmus Bridge
During the year 1900 the city grew when surrounding boroughs became part of the city (in 1886, Delfshaven, in 1895, Kralingen and Charlois, in 1914, Hoek van Holland, and in 1934 Pernis). This was necessary because the harbours, industries and residential areas were spreading in all directions.


The history of Rotterdam began in the second half of the thirteenth century with the establishment of a dam on the river Rotte. Rotterdam received municipal rights in 1340, and twenty years later the city had its own city wall.

This wall determined the size of the city for the next 500 years. Until the first half of the nineteenth century the city did not grow outside of this wall, except for the pieces of land reclaimed in the New Meuse.

Around 1875 the city was breaking apart at the seams. They were building south, north and west of the city. At the end of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century, working-class areas were built. People lived here in poor circumstances. In the 1920's and 1930's they tried to improve the quality of life. Communal gardens were laid out in the Spangen quarter and in the Kiefhoek quarter they tried to combine functionality with architecture.

In May 1940 virtually the entire city centre was devastated by a German bombardment. West-Kralingen and the 300 year old harbour were also destroyed. On a surface area of 260 hectare, almost 25,000 houses, 24 churches, 13 hospitals, 63 school buildings, 25 public buildings and 6,000 commercial properties were destroyed. The city was redrawn

Bridge over the Nieuwe Maas
after the Second World War. It was planned to group buildings of the same purpose together. For instance banks were erected near the Stock Exchange. The shopping centre Lijnbaan (1953) was the first shopping area that was closed to traffic. Houses were built on the outskirts of the town (Overschie, Schiebroek, Lombardijen, Prins Alexander, etc.) The harbours and harbour industry grew further west, especially south of the New Waterway.

The oldest harbour areas on the southern bank of the river Meuse were modernized at the beginning of the 1980's. The conversion of the Leuvehaven and Wijnhaven into the tourist centre Waterstad, consisting of hotels, esplanades, theatres and museums, is one of the most recent developments. Another prestigious project is the Kop van Zuid on the southern bank of the Meuse. Here lies the Wilhelminahof office block and the former Holland-America Line building that has been converted into a hotel. The Kop van Zuid is connected to the city centre by the impressive Erasmus bridge (1996).