Rotterdam Historic Harbor – Rotterdam, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Rotterdam Historic Harbor

Old ships and machinery fill a historic harbor in the city that's home to Europe's largest port. 


Rotterdam has Europe’s largest port, and as such, its harbors are part of its identity. This is celebrated in the city’s art and architecture, as well as in its historic harbor.

The harbor is where old ships come, not to die, but to be admired by visitors. The small patch of water is right next to the Dutch Maritime Museum, which has been building a collection of ships and harbor equipment since the 1960s. The project is a collaboration between the museum and a foundation that conserves old inland ships.

In the water, there’s an impressive collection ships and boats. There are water taxis, peat boats, the country’s last floating convenience store, and much more. Most interesting is an old steam-powered grain elevator, the last working one in the world.

On the side of the harbor, you can spot all the equipment needed to work a harbor in different times. You’ll see items like small human-powered cranes and gigantic steam-powered cranes. There are also trains and other container transport machines.

Know Before You Go

The harbor is open all day and freely accessible. With a maritime museum ticket, it's possible to get onto the ships and hear their stories. The hours for that are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 2:00.

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