Ever wonder, while strolling around Rotterdam, the small red lights on the ground? The first image you notice is the shape of a flame. But if you look closer, you’ll notice the figure of a man with his hands in the air, yelling out of despair, a bomber plane roaring above and buildings below on fire. Having studied in Rotterdam for a year now, I never paid much attention to them and just took them as the average fixture in the city. When a friend told me the full story, it was then I realized that Rotterdam has small but meaningful reminders of its past scattered all over.
As most of you probably already know, Rotterdam’s city center was obliterated by bombs in World War II. Some buildings were reduced into ashes with others having only their external structures intact. The damage was undeniably, extensive. Because of this, the city center was demolished and subsequently reconstructed. The only buildings returned to its original glory are the Laurenskerk, the Beurs Trade Center, the Post Office and Stadhuis or Town Hall. This is how we see the Rotterdam city center today – an eclectic mix of the old and the new. The new structures built are responsible for Rotterdam’s image as a city known for its innovative architecture. If you head over to the Rotterdam Tourist Info center in Beurs, there are pictures showing you the time lapse of what Rotterdam’s city center looked like before and after the bombing, as well as the rebuilding of city.