As befits Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam is open to the outside world and his 600,000 inhabitants originate from no less than 160 countries. Half the Rotterdam people are from foreign origins and a quarter of them are Moslems. A bustling, working city – a Dutch saying goes: “You spend In Amsterdam, you live in The Hague, you work in Rotterdam” - the big port attracted countless immigration waves. Rotterdam boasts one of the main Cap Verde communities in Europe and the first West-Indian community in Holland. After times of trouble, Rotterdam realised what a wealth this diversity was and elected the first foreign-born mayor in the country, Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Moroccan-born former journalist.
Erasmus’s home-town was especially suited to welcome the Tour, as the Renaissance humanist writer enlightened in his lifetime most European countries, contributing to this Republic of Letters which appeared in his time and vastly thanks to him. The illegitimate son of a priest and a doctor’s daughter, Erasmus received priesthood in 1492. He then perfected his education in Paris and in England, where he became close to Thomas More. Appointed doctor in theology in Bologna in 1506, he ended up in Basel, publishing most of his works there, before settling in Louvain and Anderlecht, from where he taught and wrote letters to most of the world’s greats. Faithful to Catholicism, a faith he defended against Luther, he moved a last time to Freiburg before returning to Basel, where he died in 1536. His journey around Europe inspired the Erasmus programme, which nowadays allows students to travel to universities throughout the EU. One of his motto was: “The whole world is everybody’s homeland”.
France’s hero Raymond Poulidor was never so close to holding the yellow jersey than in the 1973 prologue in Scheveningen since he only missed victory in the Tour opener by.07 seconds. The 7.7-kms time-trial went to Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk, who had the joy and pride to wear it on his home roads in the afternoon’s half-stage. It was Zoetemelk’s first of nine stage victories. In the afternoon, the 84-km ride nearly changed the course of the race as Luis Ocana crashed after riding into a dog. The Spaniard escaped unhurt and went on to win the Tour and six stages, in the same merciless fashion as the absent Eddy Merckx. As for Poupou, he crashed in the Portet d’Aspet pass and was forced out. Zoetemelk had to wait seven more years to win the Tour at last.
|12th century||locality is created near a dam on the river Rotte|
|1340||Rotterdam obtains from count William IV of Hainaut a town status|
|1450||Rotterdam becomes the second merchant town in the United Provinces|
|1866 - 72||Building of the new canal. Population reaches 100,000|
|1880 - 1900||Building of the ports|
|1940||On May 14, the Luftwaffe bombs the town and destroys the city centre|
|1962||Rotterdam becomes the first port in the world|
|1970||Feyenoord wins the European Cup|
|2008||Ahmed Aboutaleb becomes the first foreign-born mayor in the Netherlands|
Euromast was inaugurated in 1960 by Princess Beatrix. The concrete tower is 186-metres high with a nine-metre diameter.
Rotterdam boasts 36 CUBE HOUSES standing awkwardly on poles. They were conceived by Dutch architect Piet Blom, a Le Corbusier disciple who wished to leave the area beneath the cubes an open space.
HOFPLEIN FOUNTAIN GOES YELLOW
The Hofplein fountain, on Rotterdam’s centre square, pours orange coloured water to celebrate victories by the Dutch national soccer team. Feyenoord victories are also chances for fans to bathe and swim in it. During the tour de France stay in town, it will spill yellow water to match the colour of cycling’s most coveted jersey.