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Rotterdam’s city centre has acted as a laboratory for every architectural style since 1945. Without the postcard-pretty canals of its great rival Amsterdam, the city is known for modern avant-garde developments such as its Cubus Houses’ boxes on stilts or the spike-towered post-modernist Blaaktoren, both in the Old Harbour.

This clean, modern look fits with Rotterdam’s local reputation for being unpretentious. Europe’s busiest port, it’s said to be more hardworking than Amsterdam and less snooty than The Hague. Rotterdam’s Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is one of Holland’s top three old master collections, while the architecture of its Kunsthal contemporary art gallery, designed by local boy Rem Koolhaas, is a sight in its own right. Its River Maas waterfront and seemingly endless docks (accessible by ferry) are on a scale not found elsewhere in Holland. And despite wartime bombardment, Western Rotterdam still has older corners, notably in the bar-filled Oude Westen neighbourhood and around the small 17th century port at Delfshaven.

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