Pre-war architecture


Although Rotterdam is a medieval city you can’t find many old buildings in the city centre. Almost all buildings date from 1950 and after. Reason for this is the bombardment of Rotterdam on May 14, 1940. On this day the German Airforce bombed the city to support the German troupes fighting on the ground. Within 15 minutes over 85,000 people lost their homes, 900 lost their lives and the city centre was burning. Only a few buildings survived the bombing. The Laurens church and the City hall are two of them.  


The City hall, called Stadhuis in Dutch, is located on the Coolsingel, a boulevard-like street in the city centre. Theconstruction of the City hall, called Stadhuis in Dutch, began in 1915 under Queen Wilhelmina. The Stadhuis is built in a Beaux Arts style with influences from Byzantine, Roman and Art Deco. Pay special attention to the inner court. It includes a rose garden and is very nice to see with the . On the outside, the building is decorated with stone like sculptures, which represent virtues of the Netherlands.

Coolsingel 40


In the Middle age, Rotterdam was a little city, surrounded by city walls. The Laurenskerk, Laurenschurch in English was in the centre of this little trading town and meeting point for diverse activities. Today, it is the only building in the city which dates to the middle ages. The evangelic church was built around 1500. In the Second World War, it was hardly damaged by German airforce bombing, but rebuilt after the war. Today, the original Medieval function as a meeting point is reborn: besides the weekly worship, there are many concerts, film and dance performances.
From March to October you can climb on the tower. A great experience for children as well (from 6 years old). With the Rotterdam pass you can go for free, otherwise it is only 5€ per person.

Laurenskerk, Grotekerkplein 27

Opening times to climb the tower (from March to October):
Wed: 14:00h, Sat: 12:00h and 13:30h


Rather built a tunnel or a bridge to cross the Maas-delta? This question was discussed in the City of Rotterdam in 1936. A bridge would have been over 60 meters high to allow the ships enter in the harbour, which would have been a very expensive project. Therefore, they decided to build an over 1 kilometer long tunnel for cars and busses, a seperate tunnel for pedestrians and one for bikes and mopeds. The workers didn’t even stop during the German occupation and finished the construction in 1942.  The pedestrian tunnel, the bike tunnel and the car tunnel were opened without any celebrations. In 2011, it turned out that the Maastunnel had to be entirely renovated because the cement isn’t impervious anymore. This renovation is in process since 2017 and the car traffic can only circulate in one direction.

Want to cross the longest cycling tunnel with us and learn more about the construction difficulties during the war? In our harbour bike tour we will cross the tunnel and visit the harbour of Rotterdam. If you are more interested in the history of Rotterdam, we can tell you more about pre-war monuments, the reconstruction after the Second World War and modern architecture in the highlights tour.