A few weekends ago I discovered a new side to a city I love. By chance I discovered an app that will lead you on a self-guided walking tour of the street art in Rotterdam! Without a doubt it is one of the best ways to see the creativity that this city nurtures in its residents…
Artwork: The Last Examination by Bier & Brood
I’m often asked which city I prefer: Rotterdam or Amsterdam? But each time I struggle to answer because they are so different. In my eyes, Amsterdam offers the best visual presentation of The Netherlands’ past, while Rotterdam is a canvas for the best of The Netherland’s future.
There we met a guy (Vinz.cfh!) who represented Rewriters Rotterdam, an artistic collective from the city. On their website Rewriters describe themselves as providing “the street artists of Rotterdam with a platform within their own city”.
Artwork: inspired by Tegendraads, painted by Thijs van Buuren
Instantly, I wanted to find out more. Usually, this involves an interrogation on my subject of where to find the street art and how I can find out more about the artists. But this guy was prepared.
He was so prepared that he provided me with an app. A street art tour smartphone app to be precise. He also promised me that if I downloaded it, I would find out the answers to all my questions about street art in Rotterdam…
Artwork: Tropical Thunder by Nas Bami
Exploring Street Art in Rotterdam with the Rewriters App
Mirjam and Monique (the owners of Hostel ROOM) were instantly intrigued by the app. In fact, one of the reasons I love Hostel ROOM so much is that they are still so keen to find out the best way to show off their city to future guests.
So the Sunday after I arrived we downloaded the app, borrowed a couple of the cool green Dutch bikes that you can rent from the hostel, and went on the hunt for Rotterdam’s best street art!
We didn’t follow the route religiously. The self-guided tour begins from Rotterdam Centraal Station, but we decided to begin from the hostel. The great thing was that the app’s map made this super easy to do; essentially the route is a loop so you can start from anywhere.
Also, the Rotterdam Street Art Route is designed as a self-guided walking tour, but we had a great time on bicycles! After living in Amsterdam for a few months at the start of 2015, it now seems unnatural to walk around any city that is designed around a culture of cycling.
➤ Interested in moving to Amsterdam? Read my guide: Moving to Amsterdam: What you need to know.
And just to show you how fun this tour is for locals as well as tourists or travellers, here are my favourite pictures of Monique and Mirjam reading more about the artists and photographing their favourite murals…
Hidden Street Art in Rotterdam
What I found most incredible about the street art tour is just how hidden away the murals are. Even the big ones!
Witte de Whithstraat is one of the most frequented streets in Rotterdam. It’s home to some of the most popular bars in the city, and locals and students flock there on the weekends. It’s also one of my favourite places to grab a quick beer during the day time.
But I’ve never taken a walk down the side streets, which is where we discovered the huge colourful murals pictured above and below.
The mural above is called Mr Merida and is one of many portraits painted by the artist Tymon. The bright colours and faces in his paintings are inspired by his travels in Latin America.
The first wall below is called Love Sprends by Brazilian artist Ramon Martins. The second is a mural for the bar, De Whitte Aap (The White Ape), by Rotterdam artist Ox-Alien and British expat in Rotterdam Mark Goss.
Discovering New Neighbourhoods Through Street Art
One of my favourite outcomes of using the Rewriters app to find street art in Rotterdam was the way it guided us around neighbourhoods I’d never visited before.
The jungle scene below grew from the walls of a quiet little side street. It’s called Rotterdam 2115 and is meant to represent the future of Rotterdam. Painted by Michiel Corver, and Lastplak artists Sake and Pinwin, they have depicted a city in which nature has taken over and reclaimed the land from humans.
This curious rooftop gremlin painted by Dalata was perched atop a building nestled next to an incredibly modern new apartment structure.
And this multicoloured collage is in a busy local shopping district. It’s just around the corner from Koekela, an incredible bakery I mentioned in my ‘One Week in Europe’ itinerary, and was created by the award winning Dutch street artists Lastplak.
My Favourite Mural
Below is my favourite mural, and actually the first one that Mirjam and I found after leaving Hostel ROOM.
It depicts the greatest of architectural achievements in Rotterdam. In this mural you can see the Markthal, the Erasmus Bridge, the Cube Houses, the Euromast and even the historic White House.
It was created by the same artists who painted the mural above. Rotterdam locals, Dutch painters and friends who have created a huge visual representation of their city’s unique landscape, and tucked it away in a little known area of the city.
This day out with Mirjam and Monique was one of my favourite moments from my last trip to Rotterdam! Meeting the Rewriters representative was completely unexpected and the app was a delight to find!
I should also probably say that I’m not working with Rewriters in any way or form. I just think you guys should know about this!
Tell me: Which city do you think has the BEST street art?!