Hungry or Not, Visiting the Markthal Rotterdam is a Must

Heather Tucker, Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 3397 Views

Hungry or Not, Visiting the Markthal Rotterdam is a Must

After five years of construction, the much anticipated Markthal in Rotterdam was opened by Queen Maxima on October 1st 2014. The Markthal site is a special one when it comes to history. It is the very place where Rotterdam was founded in 1270 when a dike was constructed in the river Rotte, later receiving its status as a city in 1340. There is plenty to see below and above ground, making a visit to the Markthal a must.

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After five years of construction, the much anticipated Markthal in Rotterdam was opened by Queen Maxima on October 1st 2014.

Construction of the Markthal began on October 1st 2009. And as a resident of Rotterdam, I can confirm that for years it felt like nothing was happening. Little did (the majority of) Rotterdam know, that what was happening was far from nothing.

The Markthal site is a special one when it comes to history. It is the very place where Rotterdam was founded in 1270 when a dike was constructed in the river Rotte, later receiving its status as a city in 1340. The soil here was extremely unstable and wet, requiring 2,500 heavy concrete piles to be hammered into the soil to provide a solid base.

Also taking time and creative thinking was the great depth of the construction site – 15 meters. Pumps were used to remove the groundwater that was already present at three meters below street level. This allowed archaeologists to recover artefacts from the first Rotterdam settlement.  To go from eight to fifteen meters without pressuring the walls and floor, the site was filled with water. GPS technology, divers in heavy duty diving suits and a whole lot of concrete finished the job.

With that amount of work – spanning three years – going into the underground elements, you can imagine what went into the parts above ground – including eight restaurants, 228 apartments, 96 fresh food stalls, more than 2,500 doors and 2,000 tons of steel reinforcement (with 6,000 more underground).

Here are some of the best bits not to miss:

You won’t be able to overlook the 4,500 artwork panels that cover the ceiling and sides of the Markthal making up the Horn of Plenty. In total the image consists of 400,000 megapixels. Amongst the mixture of fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce in the image, keep an eye out for the insects that also make up the scene.

At various entrance points around the sides of the Markthal you will find six pieces of light art. Stand in just the right spot and the pieces of each artwork merge to create a well-known Holland icon – a tulip, cheese, etc.

In the escalator section of the Markthal you will find a permanent exhibition called The Time Stairs. Open every day and free of charge you’ll find artefacts that were found when building the Markthal. As you descend 15 meters into the ground you’ll head further back in time to see what life was like in medieval Rotterdam.

The glass walls at either end of the Markthal deserve some appreciation. Not only will they keep you dry but they also have a flexibility of 70 centimetres in windy conditions.

So, hungry or not a visit to Rotterdam’s Markthal is a must!

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Ds. Jan Scharpstraat 298
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