Visiting the City Hall, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: early 20th century monumentality by Henri Evers

Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
Rotterdam City Hall
Rotterdam City Hall | Source
Henri Evers (1855-1929), Dutch architect
Henri Evers (1855-1929), Dutch architect | Source
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands | Source

Survivor of the 1940 'Blitzkrieg'

Rotterdam is situated in the South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland ) province of The Netherlands, and is one of the great cities of the Randstad (1). As befits such a well established city, its municipal headquarters, Rotterdam City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis van Rotterdam ) consist of a striking building, of monumental appearance.

This building, on the Coolsingel (one of central Rotterdam's main arteries), was constructed between 1914 and 1920 (2). Its architect was Henri Evers (1855-1929), who was influenced by Beaux-Arts, Byzantine, Romanesque and Art Deco styles and the City Hall represents a mixture of these influences.

One of the building's most memorable and striking features is the 71 metre clock tower. Atop the tower is an angel of peace sculpture by Johan Keller (1863-1944).

Other sculptures at the City Hall's exterior include a large one of statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619). This work was executed by Charles van Wijk (1875-1917).

Much of Rotterdam was destroyed during the Nazi German Blitzkrieg in 1940, and the City Hall — particularly its sandstone frontage — was damaged, though not obliterated, during this mindlessly imposed event. Thus it is that even today the built environment of the Coolsingel , where the City Hall is located, is generally characterized by buildings of a style and modernity which differ quite markedly from the appearance of the City Hall. Or, stated differently, Rotterdam's City Hall might not have looked 'traditional' when first built in the early 20th century, but, particularly in view of the surrounding structures, it certainly looks 'traditional' today.

After decades of weathering, the main frontage of the City Hall has in recent years taken on again something akin to its original appearance, following a thorough program of sanitation.

Notes

(1) The Randstad is a name given collectively to the Dutch cities of Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, which, together, amount to a conurbation. From historical and environmental perspectives, the character of this area thus differs quite markedly from many of the more distant localities of The Netherlands (some of which I have described in these hubpages).

(2) This building period for such a major, public works undertaking may seem to be unusual, given the pressing priorities of many European countries during World War One, but it is useful to bear in mind that The Netherlands remained neutral during this war.

Also worth seeing

In Rotterdam itself, the Laurenskerk, with its statue of Erasmus nearby, the Euromast and the Cube Houses, are major landmarks.

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How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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