Visiting the Provenierssingel, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: lush, surviving 19th century moat and boulevard
Fruits of controlled, city expansion in the late 19th century
When I stayed on the Provenierssingel, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, its location within walking distance to the Downtown area of the city made it very convenient, but it was and is a peaceful, green haven which stands in contrast to the bustle of what is among the country's busiest of cities.
The Dutch word 'singel' can be translated in various ways; one of these is 'moat'; another is 'boulevard'. Since there is a sense in which both these terms apply to Rotterdam's Provenierssingel , I have included both words in this article's title.
When one speaks to many people about Downtown Rotterdam, they will often assume that the Nazi German bombing during the1940 Blitzkrieg completety devastated it. This is largely true, though not entirely.
A suburb near the Downtown area, named Provenierswijk , in which the Provenierssingel is situated, survived: in fact, the Provenierssingel derived its basic shape as a herbaceous moated, park-like boulevard in the late 19th century. Among all the European countries, The Netherlands probably experienced among the most rapid process of urbanization, and Rotterdam in the late 19th century underwent rapid urbanization. But it was in the conviction of the city authorities that this expansion should be controlled. A number of moated boulevards were thus dug and planted; this included the Provenierssingel (1). In some Dutch cities, former commercial canals have been re-engineered into parkland and green areas; but the Provenierssingel never commanded much of a commercial rôle as a waterway.
Provenierswijk soon became a sought after residential area and a number of opulent, town villas have survived in the district.
The name 'Provenier' is derived from a 15th century leper colony in the vicinity.
January 8, 2013
(1) Others included the Westersingel , the Noordsingel and the Boezemsingel . Gerrit de Jongh (1845-1917), in charge of public works for the City of Rotterdam in the late 19th century, is often credited with responsibility for these boulevards.
Also worth seeing
In Rotterdam itself, the Laurenskerk , with its statue of Erasmus nearby, the Euromast and the Cube Houses, are major landmarks.
Delft (distance: 15 kilometres); visitor attractions include the Nieuwe Kerk associated with the Dutch royal family, the 17th century city hall (Dutch: Stadhuis), the Walloon church (Dutch: Waalse Kerk ) and many outlets for the local, well established ceramics industry.
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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