First settled in 1270, Rotterdam blossomed into a Golden Age beauty only for three quarters of the city to be flattened by the Luftwaffe during World War II. Adopting a typically Dutch pragmatic attitude, the Rotterdamers brushed themselves off and rebuilt their city as a hotbed of modern architecture and design.
Today, the Netherlands' second city is a veritable playground for global "starchitects": iconic structures litter the city, including Piet Blom's 1970s cube houses, Ben van Berkel's Erasmus Bridge, Renzo Piano's KPN Tower and Rem Koolhaas' De Rotterdam. As The New York Times declared, "Rotterdam is increasingly to architecture what Paris is to fashion, or Los Angeles to entertainment," making it all the more fitting that the high-rise city has gained the nickname "Manhattan on the Maas [river]".
Nonetheless, Rotterdam remains very much a working city, retaining its long-held role as a major international commercial centre and Europe's largest port. It's also rich in cultural attractions, from outstanding museums to a renowned clubbing scene.