ROTTERDAM: The Gateway to Europe (A tour to the River Maas, Maastunnel and Erasmus Bridge)

Rotterdam is big city located in South Holland, a province of the Netherlands. Dubbed as the “gateway to Europe” and consequently, Europe’s “gateway to the world”, the city traces its history back to 1270 when the people constructed a dam by the river Rotte for safety. Strategically situated within Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt river delta at the North Sea, the city has the largest port in Europe and is the country’s second most populated, next to Amsterdam.

The river Maas/Meuse, with the Rotterdam city center on the other side
The river Maas/Meuse, with the Rotterdam city center on the other side

My aunt and uncle kindly took me and my grandma on a tour to the city center during my visit in the Netherlands. I was awed by how big the River Maas/Meuse is, that big ships could actually pass through! With a total length of 925 kms, Maas is considered as a major European river, flowing from France to Belgium to the Netherlands and out to the North Sea. Did you know that the first fossils of the Cretaceous sea reptile Mosasaur was found by the said river in 1780?

A panorama of the river, with my grandma and me failing to hide from the view
A panorama of the river, with my grandma and me failing to hide from the view
Me and my aunt posing by the River Maas/Meuse
Me and my aunt posing by the River Maas/Meuse

Rotterdam has grown from a largely flooded city into a major economic center, thanks to the port of Rotterdam, which is the largest cargo port in Europe and the 10th largest in the world. Dutch innovativeness was key to building lots of dikes and dams to protect the city (and the whole country) from floods. I guess Manila and Rotterdam share the same situation, as most part of the Dutch city lies below sea level.

Interestingly, the city, also, has the highest percentage of foreign immigrants. As of 2015, Suriname, Turkey and Morocco occupy the top three spots for the most number of immigrants in Rotterdam, followed by the Dutch Carribean, Cape Verde, Indonesia, Germany, Serbia, Poland and China. In fact, the current mayor is a Moroccan Muslim. To be honest, I think it’s nice that foreign immigrants are given chances to better and improve their lives in Rotterdam! The Dutch are indeed one of the friendliest in the world! 🙂

Rotterdam river coast
Rotterdam river coast, with a little view of the Maastunnel South ventilation tower
Rotterdam
Rotterdam

As most river cities, Rotterdam is divided into two by the River Maas. The city center is located in the northern part. Nevertheless, it is easy to go to the other side by means of bridges, one of which is the famous Erasmus Bridge, and tunnels. It is important to note that the Dutch renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher and theologian Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) was born in Rotterdam. (Or in Gouda, as another historian suggests.) And because of that, the city’s major university, the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) was named after him. A bridge was also built to honor the old man, the Erasmusbrug, a cable-stayed and bascule bridge.

Erasmus Bridge
Erasmus Bridge

One fantastic thing to be awed about is the Maastunnel! Seriously, build a tunnel under a huge river — why not? The Maastunnel is like a miniature version of the Scandinavian Øresund Bridge, also submerged underwater, which connects Sweden and Denmark. Built from 1937 to 1942, the Maastunnel used the sunken tube method. But what made it special is that it used rectangular tunnels instead of the regular cylindrical ones, making it the world’s first rectangular shaped underwater tunnel! And because it was built during the height of the Nazi regime, the Dutch held an unofficial opening ceremony in secret. (Read more here: Maastunnel, or here: Maastunnel )

Entrance to Maastunnel
Entrance to Maastunnel
Cyclist and pedestrian escalator
Cyclist and pedestrian escalator
Down the tunnel
Down the tunnel
Maastunnel
Maastunnel
Maastunnel
Maastunnel

Are you ready to walk 1070 meters underwater? 😀

There’s much to admire about the Netherlands and the Dutch. And there’s a whole lot more than just the pretty windmills and colorful flower beds! 🙂 Up next, a tour to a mid-century cruise ship turned easy and casual hotel. Cheers! ❤

Erasmus Bridge
Erasmus Bridge

 

 

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12 thoughts on “ROTTERDAM: The Gateway to Europe (A tour to the River Maas, Maastunnel and Erasmus Bridge)

  1. I, too, would love to see that tunnel under the river. It is thrilling to walk under knowing that everything surrounding you is a body of water. And the tunnel looks long and well-lit. ihihi, I wonder if something like that would be constructed here in our country. I hope it will be maintained in good condition and no vandalism and the like.

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  2. As you know, I live in the Netherlands :). I love Rotterdam. I don’t live close to Rotterdam (about 2.5 hours by car). But I’m in Rotterdam usually a few times every year. Also because I need to go there for work sometimes. But then I only see the office haha and almost nothing else. I even haven’t been in the Maastunnel yet. But I like it. When I go the next time, I’m going to try to save some time to check it out.

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  3. The tunnel is so cool and it would be and adventure in its own way. We have never been to Holland but plan it as part of ourEuropean swing in 2017. Rotterdam was not on our list of cities but perhaps we should add it. We planned on the northern areas but since we are going to France from there it would be on the way and a great treat to visit.

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  4. Wow, Maastunnel is clearly one famous landmark in Rotterdam. I like how you provide the a brief history. The history made it more trivial by the way; brings out the “Ahhh” moment..hehe! Another Holland experience, thanks for sharing! 😉

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  5. Parang weird ang feeling when you go in the tunnel knowing what is above, there must be a sense of excitement too. LOL. Minsan nakikita ko ang name ng city, pero now ko lang nalaman na it is a souther city of Holland pala. So good to know. Parang hindi talaga matao diyan ano?

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  6. Rotterdam seems to be familiar when i saw the name here. Parang i had encounter the place through an acquaintance before, she kept talking about the place durinf her stay there. The tunnel is amazing. Sounds weird but if i am alone there i feel like its creepy.. Hahaha! The cyclist and pedestrian escalator looks interesting.. I wish we had that here in Pinas 🙂

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