July 26, 2019: Rotterdam Bridges

 

Sailing through Rotterdam Harbor early in the morning of Day 1 of a Viking River Cruise, I was struck by the diffused light and quiet waters where we were moored, waiting to start the main part of the trip.

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I was also struck by three of Rotterdam's bridges, one of which isn't really a bridge at all...but more of that later. The first one that caught my attention is at the top; it's the Koningshavenbrug, or King's Harbor Bridge. That's its official name, but when it's at home, it goes by The Lift (De Hef). It's actually a 'frankenbridge' with the two side spans dating the 1870s; the lift section was built in 1927 to replace a swing bridge. In 1993 it retired to landmark status.

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Turning in the opposite direction, one of Rotterdam's two quite new cable-stayed bridges—all the style in bridge-building these days! This one is called the Willemsbrug, or William's Bridge. It was built in 1983, and won a design award.



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And here's the bridge that isn't a bridge in any conventional sense. It's along the Nassau Quay, and is the world headquarters of Unilever. It's called De Brug (the Bridge) because it was built essentially as a bridge above not a road or river but a Unilever factory, which kept working 24/7 the whole time De Brug was being built in 2002-5. Its size is deceptive; stood on end it would be one of the city's tallest buildings at 130 meters by 33 meters wide. It was actually built at a nearby site and lifted into place on its supports in near-complete form.

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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