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Visiting the Lijnbaan, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: first pedestrian shopping zone in the country, already 60 years old

Updated on January 10, 2013
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
View of the Lijnbaan, Rotterdam
View of the Lijnbaan, Rotterdam | Source
Rotterdam, destruction, 1940
Rotterdam, destruction, 1940 | Source
Rotterdam. Lijnbaan, raised to the status of a National Monument
Rotterdam. Lijnbaan, raised to the status of a National Monument | Source
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands
Map location of Rotterdam in The Netherlands | Source

Issues of urban heritage

The severe destruction of the Downtown area of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, by Nazi German bombing in 1940 paradoxically offered post-war planners new opportunities for a car free shopping district. The task for designing this large area was given to architects Jo van den Broek (1898-1978)(1) and Jacob B. Bakema (1914-1981)(2). The architectural firm of which they were partners is still very active (3).

Work on the Lijnbaan , as it is called, began in 1949 and was completed in 1953 and, with this district already 60 years old, various of its buildings have been deemed National Monuments in The Netherlands in their own right.

The first pedestrian shopping district in The Netherlands, the Lijnbaan was subsequently emulated by town planners across the country, and, indeed, internationally.

The greater entity around the Lijnbaan is sometimes referred to as the Lijncomplex . There have been discussions in recent years about replacing an adjacent green area with tower block roof gardens; and competing plans and preferences for the further development of the area have been given a lively airing. Some people think the city council is not democratic enough; others think that the needs of investors and developers is ought to be viewed the most sympathetically; there are those who think that the city council does not pay high enough a regard to its post-World War Two urban heritage. Doubtless the discussions will run and run. (And so it goes... .)

Rotterdam is situated in the South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland ) province of The Netherlands.

January 11, 2013


(1) The architect's full name was Johannes Hendrik van den Broek.

(2) The architect's first name is sometimes given as Jaap.

(3) This firm had long been known as van den Broek en Bakema , but it has more recently been styled more simply: Broekbakema .

Also worth seeing

In Rotterdam itself, the City Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis ) is an imposing, monumental edifice; the Sint-Laurenskerk has a striking statue of Erasmus of Rotterdam; the Euromast and the Cube Houses are major landmarks; the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum has a distinguished art collection.

Dordrecht (distance: 22 kilometres) has the impressive and historic, 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. 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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