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History of Rotterdam, Netherlands

Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands History

In creating our Rotterdam Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we dug into the city’s history so as to properly contextualize our tour. It is important for us. At most of the 25 stops along the tour, we explain the history of a site, monument, or person. This allows us to fully show you their significance.

Rotterdam is a major port city in the Netherlands within the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt river delta at the North Sea.

History of Rotterdam

Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands HistoryThe city’s history starts in 1270 when a great dam was built on the Rotte river (hence, Rotterdam). This dam was, in fact, the connecting of many fiefdoms’ protective walls into a single great wall. Indeed, these walls, built up over time, served to protect against flooding.

However, this city can trace its origins further back. All the way to 900 AD when early settlements established around the Rotte estuary. These were part of the Holy Roman (German) Empire.

In 1340, Rotterdam finally received “city rights” by the Count of Holland. It could then start to expand. Various power struggles emerged for control of the city in the following 150 years. Then, the city became involved in the Eighty Year War between the Low Countries and Spain. This conflict stagnated growth but the following period saw prosperity as trade with England, France, America, and Spain increased into the 18th century. The city was occupied by the French from 1795 to 1813 and succumbed to a recession at this time. Fast growth took hold once more when the French left as the exploration of Africa brought in new trade. At this time, the city outgrew its walls and expanded not only beyond, but across the river as well.

Rotterdam almost didn’t survive WWII as it was the subject of an early German invasion and bombings in 1940. Allied air forces later bombed the city to drive out the Germans. The city was almost completely reconstructed following WWII and boasts bold, modern architecture. Nowadays, Rotterdam is home to almost 635 000 people and is Europe’s largest port.

Scavenger Hunt

Our scavenger hunt is a self-guided walking tour of the see you can do on your smartphone. Over 3 hours, it’ll take you to all the significant sites, teach you some history, and challenge you with puzzles and various questions.

Find out more about our Rotterdam Tourist Scavenger Hunt on the info page.

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Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands History

Are you looking for things to do in Rotterdam? This Tourist Scavenger Hunt takes you on a self-guided walking tour, with challenges through the heart of the city.

See all the sights while having fun and learning some history! You will walk from City Hall to the Cube Houses while taking a few side trips and taking on various challenges. Our Rotterdam Tourist Scavenger Hunt was developed and tested in the fall of 2017.

You will start your adventure in front of City Hall / Stadhuis Rotterdam. Follow the instructions on your smartphone to solve challenges, and get instructions to your next destination. The challenges are varied in difficulty and types to keep you entertained. They’re good for all ages.

You should plan a good 3 hours for this activity, wear comfortable shoes and be certain your phone is fully charged. As well, you’ll need a data plan as WiFi will not be enough. Further, a street map and bottled water could come in handy.

Things to do in Rotterdam? See the sites!

Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Over your 3-hour adventure through the city, you will see:

  • City Hall
  • Great Church of Saint Lawrence
  • Witte Huis
  • Cube Houses
  • Maritime Museum
  • Mariniersmuseum
  • Central Public Library
  • Lijnbaan
  • Theatre Place
  • Centraal Station

Learn more about the Rotterdam Tourist Scavenger Hunt on our description page.