The City That Throws Serious Shapes #LoveRotterdam

Cube Houses, Tree Houses, Piet Blom
Cube Houses in Rotterdam

Even as I stepped out of Rotterdam Central train station, I was hit by it. This city is a plethora of shapes, colours and impossibly designed buildings. The station itself was a building that felt like any other modern transport hub and then coming out of the large glass front you realise its a striking triangular shape.

I’ve travelled to Amsterdam for a weekend and thought I knew what to expect of a city in the Netherlands. I was about to get an education!

Rotterdam Central Station

Rotterdam Central Station

From my very first impression, Rotterdam was like nowhere else. It is expressive and atypical of the usual small canals and Dutch townhouses. The wide open spaces of meeting squares and pedestrian areas are a big part of the city. The element of water is all around. Even away from the water front, there is a presence of water in this place below sea level. Its intriguing from the beginning.

I jumped straight on a tram and headed towards Blaak station. This was close to where my hotel was and I couldn’t wait to get checked in and explore more. I didn’t have long to wait until I saw the next architectural statement. Cube houses were what I encountered at the end of my tram ride. I love them!

Piet Blom's Cube Houses

Piet Blom’s Cube Houses

The water front in Rotterdam is a skyline full of crazy buildings. They aren’t just skyscrapers, they are skyscrapers that defy gravity! The bridges around the city were a variety of modern and traditional. Erasmusbrug was my favourite and was flying flags of orange while I was visiting.

Every building, bridge and even open space told a story of reconstruction and breaking traditional rules.

Erasmus Bridge and Skyline Rotterdam

Erasmus Bridge and Skyline


Waterfront skyline with De Rotterdam

Waterfront skyline with De Rotterdam

Marthal was near my hotel and is the huge market food hall in the pedestrian area next to station Blaak. It has offices and apartments around the outer part, a huge colourful mural inside and massive open space of food sellers in the centre. It is a very different concept to any other marketplace I’ve seen before.

Marthal Rotterdam


Museumplein, the area with a large number of museums and a park does not let the side down with architecture. Each building houses brilliant exhibits but are also innovative in themselves. Colours, materials and shapes are bold and passionate.

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam

This thoroughly modern city has its pockets of historic architecture with Delfshaven at its heart. This is the last surviving area of old Rotterdam following the blitz during World War II. It is calm and beautiful with enough history in its two streets to give you a much deeper understanding of what happened to this city and who its people are.

Pilgrim Fathers Church Rotterdam

Pilgrim Fathers Church

Europe’s First Skyscraper Witte Huis, an eleven storey building, is still also part of this mixed architectural landscape. Its hard to believe that this was ground breaking in its time but another great story in the landscape.

Europe's First Skyscraper

Europe’s First Skyscraper

Street art and sculptures add to the unique surroundings giving it a very cool, fun character. The street Witte De Withstraat is one of the alternative, artistic places in Rotterdam centre. I spent time each day here and had lunch. Its a fantastic place to chill out and take a stroll.

There is a freedom and fierce quality to the messages portrayed. Rotterdam definitely has a strong voice.

Street Art in Rotterdam

Street Art in Rotterdam

Giant sculptures of paint pots and other random objects can be found as well as inspirational monuments such as Triomphe. As well as the creative, art scene, this is also a foodie place. There are places popping up all over the city where you can get exceptional food in amazing spaces.

Regeneration has allowed the people of Rotterdam to make their mark on this place and forge an exciting, innovative future here.

Street Art in Rotterdam

Street Art Paint Pots

Luchtsingel is a crowd funded bridge and walkway in Rotterdam. Another colourful structure shaping the landscape further. I love that this is collaborative and for the people. This pedestrian walkway connects and is hopefully going to continue throughout the city.



Colours and shapes and almost too playful to be adult. I feel like someone took the rule book on architecture and modern city building and tore it up! This place just does not conform. It is a regeneration that has pushed the boundaries and possibilities. There is an honesty and innovation to Rotterdam that I’ve rarely found in cities before. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to visit.

Luchtsingel Rotterdam

Luchtsingel Rotterdam

Have you visited Rotterdam? Would you like to explore this playground of architecture and art?


  • Wow I love the colours and the geometric shapes – so different to Amsterdam like you say. The waterfront skyline looks stunning!

  • Major longing to see this for myself. I’m a huge fan of interesting architecture and there’s a fearlessness here that is gorgeous. Great pictures too.

  • Cailin says:

    I have never had Rotterdam on my must see list, but after reading this post it looks really cool! That market looks awesome!

  • Jenna says:

    I’ve been hearing about the Cube Houses recently and it has really made me want to visit and stay in the one available on airbnb! Rotterdam looks like a great city to check out–the architecture is so pretty and unique! We might be heading to Amsterdam later this year, and now I’m seriously considering adding in a side trip to Rotterdam!

  • galanda23 says:

    I am not a great fan of the modern architecture, but I have to say this looks quite amazing and grandiose. I’d love to visit Netherlands someday.

  • Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru says:

    Such boldness could be overpowering without the playful elements. It seems as though Rotterdam wants to push the design esthetic without forgetting how attractive unexpected whimsy can be. What an awesome rebirth after the devastating effects of WWII. Thanks!

  • Heather says:

    What unique architecture and such a contrast to Amsterdam. I love the bit of history with Europe’s first skyscraper being an 11 storey building, very interesting!

  • adonisabril says:

    Wow! That’s some amazing architecture! I’ve to a lot of places in Europe and I regretted not having visited Rotterdam. I’ll have to remedy that very soon 🙂

  • Lauren says:

    I love those cube houses so much! It looks like such a wonderful city to walk around and explore. Adding Rotterdam to my list 🙂

  • Love Rotterdam! And great post, these are the reasons we love this city, and it’s less crowded than Amsterdam these days. The market by blaak station has some great treats too! Hubby and I wanted to live in the strawberry if we could!

  • Lillie says:

    I’m such an architecture fan and love these shapes! What a great eye you have to snap them all up. My favorite is that first one with the yellow.

  • What an inspiring city for photographers and architects alike! I’m surprised that Witte Huis was the first skyscraper in Europe. It looks so short compared to buildings these days! It’s still pretty impressive though. I would love to see the Cube Houses for myself!

  • Some of the buildings look like they come out of a movie! The shapes are crazy and the colors are so bright. I love that there is still a little bit of traditional architecture though. I like seeing the two types together.

  • Wow, I had no idea that Rotterdam had such fantastic architecture. Within Europe it is more infamous for its football hooligans, but glad you showed it from a different side. I love those cube houses. They look incredible.

  • Svet Dimitrov says:

    I have been to Rotterdam since my brother lived there and I loved it. It hosts one of the coolest buildings in Europe and is super clean and packed with bicycles!

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