Rotterdam stands out from other cities in the Netherlands and all of Europe. The city’s history explains some of this difference, especially its architecture, but there are plenty of things beyond its history that make Rotterdam unique. Here are some fun facts about Rotterdam that make the city as special as it is.

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1. Rotterdam dates back to 1270

Back in the twelfth century the small settlement known as Rotta was heavily flooded. A century later, a dam was built in the river Rotte and so the city got its name and its start. On 7 June 1340, the town gained city rights, giving it rights to built a defensive wall, hold markets, and store and trade particular goods, amongst other rights.

2. Stronger through struggle

The city’s motto Sterker door strijd, says a lot about the city and its inhabitants. The motto translates to Stronger through struggle or Stronger through battle, and was presented by Queen Wilhelmina in 1948, to commemorate the role of the citizens of Rotterdam during World War II.

3. Is that really what it’s called or is it a nickname?

Locals in Rotterdam are hardy but they also have a great sense of humour as you can learn from their refusal of official names and frequent use of nicknames. The city itself has several nicknames such as Roffa, Rotjeknor and Rotje. Sometimes buildings and statues are better known by there nicknames than their official name such as the Cube Houses, The Pencil, Kabouter Buttplug and the Koopgoot.

10 fun facts about Rotterdam

4. Below sea level

Around 90% of the city lies below sea level. However the city is well protected by levies, dikes and dams, especially since the big flood of 1953. After this flood which caused the death of 1836 people in the Netherlands, the Delta Works were constructed.

5. Traces of the bombardment

The bombardment of Rotterdam in 1940 left core memories in the city itself. To this day, it is the main reason why Rotterdam looks as modern as it does. The area of the city that was destroyed is marked today in the pavement of the city by lit markers and fire stones.

6. Over 170 nationalities

Rotterdam is a culturally rich city, with over half of the people who call the city home having migrated to there from another country or at least one of their parents did. Most people have a background from elsewhere in Europe, such as Italy, Germany and Poland. When it comes to down to particular countries, most people come from Turkey and Morocco.

7. The biggest port in Europe

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest sea port in Europe, handling almost twice the amount of cargo as the ports of Antwerp and Hamburg. Only in East Asia can you find larger sea ports and Rotterdam is the only European port amongst the top 10 busiest ports in the world.

10 fun facts about Rotterdam

8. First high-rise building in Europe

Rotterdam is home to the first high-rise building that was built in Europe, the Witte Huis. When it was first built in 1898, it was the tallest building in Europe at 43-metres tall, with 10 floors. Today this Art Nouveau style building, with statues of different animals and plants, is a national monument.

9. Football is life

Rotterdam has 3 professional football clubs, the most out of any city in the country. The biggest of the three is Feyenoord, who play at Stadion Feijenoord better known by its nickname De Kuip. The other two clubs are Sparta Rotterdam and Excelsior.

10. Tallest publicly accessible building in the Netherlands

Though there are taller buildings in the country and Rotterdam itself, the Euromast is the tallest publicly accessible building in the Netherlands at 185-metres tall. A visit here gives you beautiful views across the city and you can even have dinner up high above the city.

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