Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands, located in the province of Zuid-Holland. The city is situated on the banks of the Nieuwe Maas river. The name "Rotterdam" is derived from the small river Rotte, which joins the Nieuwe Maas at the location of the city.
Rotterdam has a large harbour and functions as an important transition point for goods transported between the European continent and other parts of the world: by ship, riverboat, train and road. A faster, new cargo railway to Germany, the Betuweroute has been under construction since 2000. The city is in constant struggle to maintain its prominent position as a world leader in container, petrol, and general cargo transhipment handlings. Large oil refineries are located west of the city along the Nieuwe Waterweg.
Its harbour territory has been enlarged by the construction of the Europoort complex along the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg, and the Maasvlakte in the North Sea near Hoek van Holland. The lay-out of a second Maasvlakte has since the '90's been a subject of political debate.
On May 14, 1940 Rotterdam was bombarded by the German Luftwaffe, on the first of five days of war in the Netherlands. The heart of the city was almost completely destroyed, which Ossip Zadkine later expressed strikingly with his statue Stad zonder hart (City without a heart). The statue is located near the Leuvehaven, not far from the Erasmusbrug in the north of the city. From the fifties through the seventies of the 20th century the city was rebuilt, but remained quite windy and open, until the city councils from the eighties on began developing an active architectural policy with daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities, resulting in a more 'livable' city center with a new skyline. In the nineties a new business center on the south bank of the river, the Kop van Zuid has been built.
Rotterdam is divided into 'Rotterdam-North' and ' Rotterdam-South' by the river the Nieuwe Maas. Three tunnels (the Beneluxtunnel, Maastunnel and the Heinenoordtunnel) and three bridges (van Brienenoordbrug, Willemsbrug and the Erasmusbrug) connect the two parts. In addition, people can travel back and forth by subway (metro), train, busses and trams. Rotterdam has the second largest airport of the country, Rotterdam Airport (formerly known as Zestienhoven), which is located north of the city.
Well known museums are the Boymans-van Beuningen (arts) Museum , the Historisch Museum, the Volkenkundig Museum (foreign peoples and cultures), the Maritiem Museum and the Brandweermuseum (Fire brigade museum). The Euromast (Eurotower) has long been a major touristic attraction.
Rotterdam has been the European cultural capital of 2001. The city has its own orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, a large congress- and concert building De Doelen, plus many theatres (among which the new Luxor theatre) and movie theatres. The spacious Ahoy-complex in the south of the city is being used for pop concerts, exhibitions, tennis tournaments and other such activities. The architect J. J. P. Oud was a famous Rotterdammer in his days.
Rotterdam is the home of three professional soccer teams: Feyenoord, Sparta (Schiedam-Spangen) and Excelsior. The large Feyenoord stadium with its popular name De Kuip (the tub) in the southeast of the city has hosted many international soccer games. Rotterdam has it's own annual international marathon, which offers one of the fastest courses in the world.
Well-known streets in Rotterdam are the shopping center the Lijnbaan, the Coolsingel with the city hall, and the Weena, which runs from the Central Station to the Hofplein (square).
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