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Visiting the Hofplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: hub of a vibrant city

Updated on May 6, 2013
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
Rotterdam: Hofplein. Traffic intersection and fountain
Rotterdam: Hofplein. Traffic intersection and fountain | Source
 Rotterdam: the Hofplein photographed from the rooftop of a nearby office building. A view towards the City Hall (Coolsingel 40)
Rotterdam: the Hofplein photographed from the rooftop of a nearby office building. A view towards the City Hall (Coolsingel 40) | Source
 Rotterdam, the Shell office building and the Hofplein
Rotterdam, the Shell office building and the Hofplein | Source
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands | Source

Where Rotterdam converges, in memory and spatial context

Rotterdam is different. It is hard to define that difference, but there is an overwhelming sense of vibrancy here, with its Downtown area which had to be almost completely rebuilt following World War Two.

The Hofplein would probably be regarded — at least in traffic terms — as the hub of Downtown Rotterdam. Not only motor traffic but also trams (North America: streetcars) are seen here in abundance, circulating the square.

A number of the city's most famous streets converge here: the Coolsingel; Weena; the Schiekade. Rotterdam's City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis) and the historic Lijnbaan pedestrian district are also only a short walk away from the Hofplein. The Coolsingel, on which the City Hall is situated, seen together with the Hofplein seem so wide and spacious that one can receive mental images of vast, iconic Downtown vistas such as at 9 de Julio Avenue, Buenos Aires.

The Hofplein is traditionally a scene for celebrations of sporing successes. A fountain is situated in the centre of the square, and sometimes the colour of the water is dyed during these periods of celebration.

Situated close to the business core of the city, the Hofplein is overlooked by the headquarters of one of the leading companies of The Netherlands: Shell.

Interestingly, the Hofplein has been designated a national monument in The Netherlands, given its significance in the urban environment of Rotterdam and in the life of the city. Prior to World War Two, a gate structure known as the Delfsche Poort (1) stood at the Hofplein, but its demolition did not actually occur because of the Blitzkrieg in 1940; although the latter did affect plans for its reconstruction. A similar, metal frame structure has, however, in recent years been rebuilt.

I think memory and context form a large part of the overall impression of the Hofplein. It is a memory, that is, of the City of Rotterdam prior to the Downtown area's devastation by Nazi German aerial bombardment in 1940. It is a spatial context of the city's planning, where much of the city's vibrant life visibly converges.

May 6, 2013


(1) References to this former structure tend to retain its old, archaic spelling.

Also worth seeing

In Rotterdam itself, the City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis) is an imposing, monumental edifice; the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is a widely acclaimed art collection. the Sint-Laurenskerk has a striking statue of Erasmus of Rotterdam; the Lijnbaan is an historicic, pedestrian shopping area built a few years after World War Two; the Euromast and the Cube Houses are among major landmarks in the city.

Dordrecht (distance: 22 kilometres) has the imposing, partly Medieval, Cathedral.


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. Much of Downtown Rotterdam is eminently walkable. You are advised to 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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