Rotterdam, Netherlands, Shopping Streets


One of the great things about visiting Rotterdam
in the Netherlands is the vast pedestrian
zone in the center.
There are several major streets that function
like a big outdoor shopping mall that you
would love to explore, along with some quaint
side lanes that will entice you to have a
look.
And now we’re going to enjoy a detailed visit
to the vibrant center of downtown Rotterdam,
especially the Lijnbaan, the most famous of
all the pedestrian malls.
The map shows the city center and our routing,
including several side malls that branch off
from the main street.
Lijnbaan was the first time in Europe that
an automobile street was converted to exclusive
use by pedestrians, making it Europe’s first
modern pedestrian shopping street.
It opened in 1953 after the devastation of
World War II.
By now this pedestrian concept has been copied
by nearly every city and town in Europe and
in many places throughout the world.
The stores are integrated so well with the
street that it functions almost more like
a standard shopping mall than a pedestrian
lane, enjoying the advantages of both styles.
You’ll want to get off the main lane now and
then for added shops and cafés.
One of the side malls branching off here is
Stadhuisplein facing the old City Hall, which
we’re going to visit later in the program
— a wonderful outdoor plaza with lots of
dining facilities out on the terrace, very
popular spot.
Shopping malls did not even exist yet in 1953,
so this was really some visionary planning.
The famous American shopping mall developer
Victor Gruen visited here back in 1953 and
was disappointed that this had opened already
before his own first shopping mall ever opened.
Extending across from Stadhuisplein is another
one-block-long mall, Korte Lijnbaan with more
famous shops and places to eat.
It’s worth a little stroll to enjoy both of
these side malls.
Continuing on a few blocks further south on
Lijnbaan, we get to another really lovely
side mall called Beurstraverse.
First crossing a rather busy intersection
with lots of pedestrians and trams.
There are still no cars allowed down here,
but you’ve got these trams on steel rail at
street level going by.
It’s a safe mix with the alert pedestrians.
From here we can look down into this lovely
shopping mall called Beurstraverse.
It’s really something quite different.
We have a split-level street scene with shops
up above and shops down below, with some benches
and tables out in the plaza.
It’s a brilliant design because this encourages
people to shop on two levels instead of just
one, which is often a challenge on a normal
shopping street.
People just stay on the one main level on
the shopping street.
Of course in a shopping mall it’s always multilevel
and you’ve got escalators and nice stairways,
and that’s what we find here.
It’s another one of these hybrids between
shopping mall and a retail pedestrian street.
There is a charming curve to the architecture
of the plaza which gives it cozy and comfortable
feeling.
The nickname for this places the Koopgoot,
that means ‘shopping gutter’, and from that
lower level you can walk right into the metro
station.
Looking down from street level for a final
view of that lower mall, a lovely place to
visit.
Often when you’re walking in the streets of
the Netherlands you’ll come upon a big calliope
playing some pipe music.
The street continues as Hoogstraat heading
over to the Markthal that we’ve shown you
in another episode.
Leaving the shopping malls now, walking a
few blocks south to one of the most popular
streets in the city convicted of its trot.
At one end of the street you’ll find the Museum
Quarter, starting with the giant Picasso statue
of silhouette.
At the other end of the street is the Maritime
Museum, all of which we will show you in another
episode.
Visit of its trot is one of those perfect
urban streets.
It’s got everything.
There are sidewalk restaurants, ethnic cuisines,
cafés, bars, music clubs at night, art galleries,
shops, wide sidewalks for pedestrians, trees
providing shade.
You can see why it’s one of the most popular
places for the locals to hang out.
The atmosphere here is more relaxed and slightly
Bohemian compared to the shopping malls that
we’ve just seen earlier, and yet it’s a family-friendly
place, unlike during the 1970s when it was
noted for seedy bars and illegal gambling.
Now it’s a bit of urban heaven.
Right around it is a residential neighborhood
that also includes some small hotels and vacation
rentals.
Now we’re walking a few blocks back up north
to the City Hall, the Stadhuis.
Behind me is the City Hall.
It’s one of the few buildings that survived
the bombing of World War II.
Called Stadhuis, it’s a grand structure that
was built between 1914 and 1920 in somewhat
of a Renaissance style, located on a major
boulevard, the Coolsingel, and still functions
today is the seat of government with the mayor’s
office and the Council Chambers.
The 70-meter high tower is topped by a gold
statue of an angel and there are coats of
arms on the façade of the various municipalities
of Rotterdam.
The building is open with free admission to
the public areas on the ground floor, where
you will find some lovely surprises.
So step inside.
It’s a beautiful building with an amazing
lobby.
As soon as you walk in you will be greeted
by a couple of large statues and a magnificent
rotunda with the dome towering above that
somewhat reminiscent of the Florentine Renaissance
style of Brunelleschi, and neoclassical arches
that hearken back to the days of ancient Rome.
Have a good look but don’t stop there.
Take a walk through the arcade on the backside
of the building where you will find one of
the most charming places in the city.
It’s easily overlooked, especially if you’re
just walking past the outside of the building.
You’d never dream what’s inside.
There is a lovely little garden in the yard
of the City Hall.
And this garden is quite a surprise – a
little fountain in the middle, benches around
it, beautiful flower gardens in the middle.
It’s a lovely spot surrounded by the old brick
architecture.
Like all Dutch City Halls there are a lot
of weddings that take place here, and the
garden is the ideal spot for some of those
wedding photographs, or perhaps just a gathering
of friends and family to take some pictures
in this lovely setting to capture the mood,
with those ivy-covered brick walls surrounding
the fountain in the sculpture garden.
What you’ve seen is free and open to the public,
no reservations required.
There’s no line to get in and there are some
clean toilet facilities inside.
The security guards are quite friendly, looking
out for things here.
You can also arrange a tour inside the building,
if you make a reservation, and there you’ll
see the grand Chamber Halls and a lot of artworks
– murals and sculptures, and the wedding
room and wedding reception hall.
The building’s right in the center of town,
just a block over from the main pedestrian
mall so it’s very easy to get here.
Don’t miss it.
Rotterdam is a unique city in the Netherlands
in being totally new.
There are only a few of the historical buildings
and a small historic neighborhood left here.
Otherwise the city was built from scratch
after World War II because of extensive damage
that was done during a bombing raid by the
Germans in 1940.
Ironically the raid only lasted 15 minutes
but it was a thorough carpet bombing of the
city that totally destroyed the central part
of Rotterdam.
They decided back then after the war, to rather
than re-create the historic buildings, they
wanted to do something bold and different,
and that is make a modern city – a totally
well-planned modern city by design and the
result is spectacular.
After the war the government decided to completely
clear out the rubble and rebuild from scratch,
and as a result, we have got a wonderful collection,
a thoroughly planned and efficient modern
city.
Starting from zero, they were able to lay
out streets again, and shape the structure
of the buildings including, of course, housing
in the central part of town.
Many of the buildings are modern skyscrapers
with mirrored glass walls and there’s been
a lot of creativity in construction of some
unusual postmodern buildings, like the public
library.
There is no other Dutch city that’s almost
entirely modern like this.
It’s taken 60 years of efforts to build
it up, and the city is still growing, still
has construction projects.
It is a very healthy and vibrant city.
Rotterdam is another one of those great Dutch
places that you would love to visit.
We have more movies about Rotterdam and many
other videos about the Netherlands.
Look for them in our collection.
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