edge of old west – start Groot Handelsgebouw

Type of route Walking route (no bicycle required)
Rooftops Groot Handelsgebouw (Stationsplein 45), Kruispleinflat (Kruisplein t.h.v. 71), Heilige Boontjes (Eendrachtsplein 3)
Starting point Groot Handelsgebouw 
Restrictions None
Duration 2 hours

A rooftop walk along the border of the city centre and the Old West district. On this route, you will visit three special buildings, each with its own story: the largest icon of the post-war reconstruction located next to Central Station, the first Mecanoo building with influences from Le Corbusier, and a former police station with an exercise yard on the roof that now gives ‘young Rotterdammers with a past’ a second chance. 

On the route

The Groot Handelsgebouw, designed by architect Hugh Maaskant, was opened in 1953 and has since become an important symbol of the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam. The 338,000 m2 multi-tenant business building provided a solution for the lack of business space that arose after the bombing. The enormous rooftop is normally only accessible to tenants, but during the Rotterdamse Dakendagen, everyone can go up and take a nice stroll.

The Kruisplein residential building on the corner of Diergaardesingel and Kruisplein was completed in 1985 as the first project by the architectural firm Mecanoo, which later became very reputable. The building is located on the ‘Fire Boundary’ of bombed Rotterdam and represents the transition from the 19th-century Old West district to the modern city centre. It symbolises a bridge between the high-rise and the low-rise buildings around it. On top of it, you can visit the beautiful rooftop terrace, where you will you will come across Urban Sketchers, who draw the urban environment on location.

Heilige Boontjes is housed in the former police station on Eendrachtsplein. The irony is clear: a work experience place for people who, in the past, might have been imprisoned there. Coffee bar Heilige Boontjes is now a proven concept: for years now, they have offered people with a past a place to self-develop and reintegrate into society. And they do so successfully. During your visit, you will hear the unique story of this building and visit the rooftop, including the exercise yard where detainees used to be allowed to enjoy the view for a while.