Rotterdam Centraal Station

I learnt about Rotterdam’s central station, or Rotterdam Centraal in Dutch, soon after arriving in the Netherlands in 2014. People were telling me about how modern it looked and how new it was and it was piquing my interest from a photography standpoint.

Three weeks in-country I made my first visit to Rotterdam from Utrecht. This was the first other large Dutch city I saw apart from Utrecht (my first visit to Amsterdam would take place several months later). Of course, I didn’t just rush out of the station to head towards the city centre, but walked around the station hall a bit to get acquainted with the place. The high ceilings lent a spacious feel to the station, both in the station hall and on the tracks.

A quick access bridge allowing passengers to move from one track to another without having to go down and jostle with other commuters; the roof is glass and allows in large amounts of light
A closer look at the Y-shaped pillars holding up the roof

Unlike Utrecht central station, one has to go up one level to catch the trains in Rotterdam CS. The result of this is that one gets a sense of brightness and space as one’s train pulls into the station. The glass roof lets in a lot of light, something that isn’t the case with older train stations that have the same layout (of requiring passengers to access an upper level for the trains). Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and Cologne central stations are among those I’m referring to.

Slats below the glass roof allowing for some directionality of light; notice the shadows of the solar cells on the roof
Solar cells on the glass roof – these are also present at Utrecht Centraal, but to a lesser extent

Rotterdam CS is among the larger train stations in the Netherlands. In addition to the many Dutch trains pulling in every day, there are also international services to Belgium and France. Whenever I travel to the Belgian cities of Antwerp or Brussels, I always have to travel to Rotterdam first, before catching a train coming from Amsterdam. The Eurostar also stops in Rotterdam, although my understanding is that this isn’t a two-way thing at the moment. In other words, the Eurostar calls at Rotterdam in one direction of travel only.

Track-changing mechanism, with an NS intercity train in the distance

In drafting this entry I thought to learn a little more about the station. From the corresponding Wikipedia article, I learnt that the station opened six months before my arrival in the Netherlands (so in early 2014). The current building is a replacement for the old central station which was demolished six years earlier in 2008.

Between then and when the new building was completed, commuters and travellers had to use a temporary building was was painted in awful shades of blue and yellow. (I refer to a bright, garish shade of blue in this instance; go check Wikipedia to see what I mean.)

A man walks along the platform; the stairs lead up to the access bridge

These are also the colours of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Dutch Railways), but I think the company could still have done a bit better with the choice of colour. It’s almost as if they splattered the entire family of Smurfs on the outside to give it its appearance.

But that’s all in the past now. Today we have a modern, high-capacity station reflecting Rotterdam’s modern looks, and which is also one of the better-looking main stations in Europe. (For an example of a not-so-nice looking station, google Duisburg central station, located in the west-German state of North-Rhine Westphalia.)

A row of flags on the side of the station’s main entrance

What I also appreciate is the extensive use of timber in Rotterdam station’s construction. To me this adds a dimension of warmth to the glass, steel and concrete used in the rest of the station. The wood makes things a bit more organic and personal. A little Nordic, even.

The roof structure at the main entrance of Rotterdam CS – its inner surface is lined with timber and its overall shape is in the form of an arrow pointing towards the city centre

Be sure to wander around Rotterdam CS a little before venturing out to explore the city!


  • Great shots and an interesting story! I’ve seen the Rotterdam station and I like it. If you are interested in train stations you might want to visit my city Groningen one day. Our ‘Hoofdstation’ (Main station) is not modern but a great example of 19the century train station building. When in Groningen, do visit the Groninger Museum as well, and have s stroll in the inner city. 🙂


    • Thank you! Groningen is a very pretty city 😊 it’s a shame I’ve only been there once. But I hope to go again and soon! I shall pay more attention to the central station the next time I’m there and walk down the city.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Absolutely love these photos! I thought the station was really interesting when I visited and I love the really modern shape from the front, but your photos definitely draw my attention to some of the more interesting aspects of the architecture that I would have otherwise probably never noticed 🙂


    • Thank you so much! Yes I think that there’s definitely more to admire about Rotterdam CS than is initially obvious. 😉


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