Erasmus Statue – Rotterdam, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Erasmus Statue

The oldest statue in the Netherlands has survived relocation, bombardment, and burial. 


This bronze-cast statue of famous Rotterdam-born humanist Desiderius Erasmus is the oldest statue in the Netherlands, with an impressive history marking it.

Dutch sculptor Hendrick de Keyser was commissioned to create the statue in 1618, and it was ultimately revealed on the Grote Markt in 1622. There it remained for over three centuries, until the disastrous bombing of the city of Rotterdam in May 1940.

It miraculously survived the attack that destroyed most of the city, and was subsequently buried in the courtyard of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen to remain hidden from the Nazi occupiers—famous for their large-scale art looting.

After the liberation of Rotterdam in 1945, the statue was recovered and placed on the Coolsingel. It was moved back to the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum when its new home had become a construction ground for the new subway network.

Ultimately, it was relocated to the St. Laurensplaats, later renamed to the Grotekerkplein, which is currently still its location. Another mystery: on the night of November 21, 1996, the statue mysteriously toppled over for reasons unknown.

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