A municipality in South Holland and Europe's leading port.

Population: 634,000 (2017)

Specialities: kapsalon (a kind of doner kebab), stroopwafels (waffles), stamppot (a kind of stew), haring (herring), prawn croquettes, Jenever (juniper).

Personalities: Pierre Bayle, Erasmus, Willem de Kooning (painter), Robin van Persie, Denzel Dumfries (football), Ahmed Aboutaleb (mayor), Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (2017 world road race champion), Richard Krajicek (tennis, Wimbledon winner in 1996).

Culture: International Film Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Technoparade, World Port Days.

Sport: Feyenoord Rotterdam, Sparta Rotterdam, and Excelsior (football).

Events: Rotterdam Marathon (April), World Port Tournament (baseball), Six Days of Rotterdam, Prologue to the Tour de France 2010.

Economy: largest port in Europe and fourth largest in the world (1st until 2004, now Shanghai), shipbuilding, chemicals (Unilever), tourism.

Motto: Sterker door strijd (Stronger in battle).

Websites and social networks: www.rotterdam.nlen.rotterdam.info

The town of Erasmus

The city of Erasmus was particularly well suited to hosting the Tour, the Renaissance humanist having taken his message to every country in Europe during his lifetime and contributed to the Republic of Letters that emerged in his time, largely thanks to him. The illegitimate son of a priest and a doctor's daughter, Erasmus was ordained a priest in 1492. He completed his education in Paris, then in England, where he became friends with Thomas More. In 1506, he became a Doctor of Theology at the University of Bologna. He then moved to Basel, where he published most of his works, and then to Louvain and Anderlecht, where he taught and wrote letters to all the powerful people of his time. Faithful to Catholicism, which he fiercely defended against Luther, he settled in Fribourg before returning to Basel, where he died in 1536. His journey of initiation across Europe inspired the Erasmus programme, which enables students to study in any country in the European Union. One of his mottos was: "The whole world is home to us all".


The Netherlands is one of the world's leading cycling nations, and this is even truer when it comes to women's cycling, with Dutch riders having won the first two editions of the Tour Femmes, with Annemiek van Vleuten in 2022 and Demi Vollering in 2023. This Grand Départ in Rotterdam is all the more important for the country as its representatives will still be favourites in this third edition, even if Annemiek van Vleuten has hung up her boots.

Among the Rotterdam-born riders are 2017 road world champion Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, who took part in the first Women's Tour of 2022, as well as Kim de Baat (now racing for Belgium). Also a two-time national champion, Van den Broek-Blaak has also won Ghent-Wevelgem in 2016, the Amstel Gold Race in 2018, the Tour of Flanders in 2020, and the Strade Bianche in 2021. At the 2017 World Championships in Bergen, Norway, she surprised all the other favourites in the final to win solo.

In 2010, the men's Tour de France set off from Rotterdam for a particularly popular Grand Départ. Fabian Cancellara won the prologue ahead of two other prestigious specialists, Tony Martin and David Millar, which enabled him to wear the Yellow Jersey for six days, even though he left it momentarily to Sylvain Chavanel. With 29 days in yellow in eleven editions between 2004 and 2016, the Swiss rider is the longest to have worn the jersey without winning the Tour.

It was the first Grand Départ, but not the first visit of the men’s Tour to Rotterdam, which was hosting it for the second time. The largest port in Europe had seen Willy Teirlinck win there in 1973. The day before, in the prologue at Scheveningen, Joop Zoetemelk had deprived Raymond Poulidor of the yellow jersey by 80 hundredths of a second. Poupou had never come so close to being the Tour leader.

The first Grand Départ to be held in the Netherlands - and abroad - was in Amsterdam in 1954. Since then, the race has taken off from the Netherlands in The Hague in 1973, Leiden in 1978, 's-Hertogenbosch in 1996, Rotterdam in 2010, and Utrecht in 2015. The Netherlands is the foreign country that has seen the Tour start the most times, with six Grand Départs (plus one for the Women's Tour), compared with three for Belgium and Germany.


  • Euromast

Construction: 1958 to 1960

Style: modern movement

Architect: Hugh A. Maaskant

History: built to coincide with the Floriade quadrennial flower show, the Euromast was inaugurated in 1960 by Princess Beatrix, now Queen of the Netherlands, and celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on 25 March 2020.

Characteristics: from the top of its 186 metres, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the port and the city at its feet, with its slender skyline. The tower is also used for climbing or rock-climbing, for the exhilaration of finding yourself back on solid ground in 15 seconds at the end of a frantic fall completed at 100 km an hour. Built from reinforced concrete, Euromast has a diameter of 9 metres and walls 30 centimetres thick. The foundations are made of a 1,900-tonne concrete block. The eagle's nest, installed at a height of 96 metres, weighs 240 tonnes. Built at the foot of the tower before being hoisted up in five days, this steel structure welcomes visitors who want to eat, make their business appointments, spend the night or have a party.

  • Cube houses

Rotterdam has 38 "cube houses", balanced on stilts. This idea by Dutch architect Piet Blom, inspired by Le Corbusier, leaves the space beneath the cubes free and open to the public. In addition to these perched houses, the complex designed by Piet Blom also includes a number of larger cubes, a tower called the Pencil, and a block of flats. The large cubes house a leisure centre, offices and studios. One of the dwellings, known as Kijk-kubus, houses a museum dedicated to the life and development of stilt dwellings. The site is a popular place to relax. Rotterdam's oldest port district, Oude Haven, is just a stone's throw away. Always bustling in summer and winter, the area is packed with terraces, cafés and restaurants of all kinds, open until dawn.

  • Erasmus Bridge

Built: 1996

Characteristics: The Erasmus Bridge is located south of the Willemsbrug and spans the Nieuwe Maas, linking the north-western bank of Rotterdam with the southern tip of the Kop van Zuid. The 802-m-long bridge has an asymmetrical pylon 139-m high. The shape of the pylon, reminiscent of a swan's neck, has earned it the nickname De Zwaan. The bridge consists of a fixed and a movable section. The southern span has an 89 m long bascule deck for boats too large to pass under the bridge. This bascule bridge is one of the largest in Europe.

History: Queen Beatrix inaugurated the bridge on 6 September 1996. It cost 165 million guilders (around 75 million euros). Shortly after it was opened to traffic in October 1996, it was noticed that the bridge was heeling under certain wind conditions. To reduce these undulations, large shock absorbers were added.

Trivia: on 3 July 2010, the bridge was on the prologue route of the Tour de France. The following day, 4 July, the start of the first stage took place there. Then Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and Tour director Christian Prudhomme cut the ribbon for the inauguration.

  • The Hofplein fountain in Tour colours

Built: 1955

Architect: J.R.A. Koops

Sculptor: Cornelis van Kralingen

Special features: the Hofplein fountain on Rotterdam's central square spits out orange water when the Dutch football team wins. Feyenoord Rotterdam's victories are also the occasion for numerous swims and dips in the fountain. When the Tour de France came to Rotterdam in 2010, the fountain was decked out in the colours of the Grande Boucle, spouting water the colour of the yellow jersey during the race.

  • Sonneveld House

Construction: 1930 to 1933

Style: Functionalism

History and characteristics: built between 1929 and 1933, this three-storey steel and concrete structure with large windows, balconies and terraces is the work of Dutch architects Andreas Brinkman (1902-1949) and Leendert van der Vlugt (1894-1936). It was one of a series of functionalist villas built at the time at the request of Rotterdam's town planning authorities, in order to revitalise the city centre's appeal in the face of a dearth of affluent households. The idea of moving into the city centre must have appealed to Albertus Sonneveld (1885-1962). At the age of 24, this young Dutch businessman had already lived in America. From 1900, he worked his way up through the ranks of the Van Nelle company and, from 1935 onwards, rose from being a clerk to the management of this food company. The Van Nelle factory, built by the same architects, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Current use: the house, which was home to the Belgian consulate until 1995, was restored when it closed and turned into a museum.

Listed as: Rijskmonument

  • Van Nelle factory

Construction: 1925 to 1931

Style: international

History: The Van Nelle factory was designed by architects Leendert van der Vlugt and Johannes Brinkman. It was built between 1925 and 1931. Initially, it was used to package coffee, tea and tobacco, and later to manufacture chewing gum, cigarettes, pudding and process rice.

Characteristics: A landmark building from the early days of Modernism in the Netherlands, it has become an icon of this architecture. It is built from reinforced concrete, steel and glass, and uses the curtain wall system to flood the interior spaces with light. The programme also included outdoor sports and leisure facilities for the workers.

Listed as: national monument (Rijsksmonument), it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2014.


  • Kapsalon

Although it's not a traditional dish, having only been invented in 2003, Kapsalon has become a must-try in Rotterdam. It's an ideal takeaway for a late-night snack or after a nightclub. Kapsalon is a street food dish consisting of meaty fries, like kebab or gyro, topped with slices of Gouda cheese and heated in the oven until the cheese melts. It is usually served with salad and various sauces - mainly garlic. For vegetarians, it can also be prepared with falafels. All served in a metal tray to take away.  

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