Delfshaven District Walking Tour, Rotterdam

Delfshaven District Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rotterdam

Part of the old city of Rotterdam, the borough of Delfshaven – situated on the right bank of the river Nieuwe Maas, is rich in history. Prior to 1886 it had been a separate municipality which grew around the port of the city of Delft.

Delft itself was not located on a major river, so in 1389 a Voorhaven (outer harbor) to the south, along with the Aelbrechtskolk waterpass, had to be created to enable seafaring vessels to dock in and avoid heavy tolls levied by the neighboring and competing port of Rotterdam. The settlement was thence known as Delfshaven ("Port of Delft").

Over the centuries the maritime theme has brought about a number of historical associations for Delfshaven, one of which is its being the birthplace of the illustrious admiral Piet Pieterszoon Hein (Pietersen Heyn). One of the Dutch West India Company's most famous commanders, Piet Hein was born here in 1577 on the street that now bears his name – Piet Heynstraat. A Piet Heyn Monument is also found nearby, in Piet Heynsplein square.

Another historic location associated with the sea is the Oude Kerk or Pelgrimskerk (“Pilgrim Fathers' Church”), a place from where on 1 August, 1620, after a night of prayer, a group of English Puritans famously set sail for what has later become the United States of America. Not far from the Church sits De Pelgrim (“The Pilgrim”) Brewery, the very first beer-making enterprise in Rotterdam, renowned for its signature brews.

Delfshaven miraculously escaped the Luftwaffe bombing of Rotterdam in 1940; hence the number of well-preserved Medieval buildings still in place, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the “breath of centuries” firsthand.

For a more detailed acquaintance with the historic Delfshaven, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Delfshaven District Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Delfshaven District Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Rotterdam (See other walking tours in Rotterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Author: valery
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Schiedamseweg Shopping Street
  • Aelbrechtskolk (Aelbrecht Waterway)
  • Voorhaven (Outer Harbor)
  • Molen de Distilleerketel (Distilling Kettle Mill)
  • Dutch Pinball Museum
  • Pilgrim Fathers Church
  • De Pelgrim Brewery
  • Piet Heynstraat (Piet Heyn Street)
  • Piet Heyn Monument
Schiedamseweg Shopping Street

1) Schiedamseweg Shopping Street

The Schiedamseweg is a well-known shopping street in the Rotterdam borough of Delfshaven. The Schiedamseweg runs between the Aelbrechtskolk in historic Delfshaven and the Marconiplein. As part of Schielands Hoge Zeedijk, the Schiedamseweg runs from Marconiplein to the municipal boundary of Schiedam. This section is popularly known as Rotterdamsedijk.

The Schiedamseweg was built in 1910 and forms the connection from Delfshaven to Schiedam. Before 1910 traffic, including the steam tram, passed over the narrow Mathenesserdijk . The Schiedamseweg was constructed as a wide boulevard and central axis of the Bospolder/Tussendijken district . The building on the east side of the Schiedamseweg is in the Neo-Renaissance style. The buildings west of Spanjaardstraat are more sober. At the end of the twenties , the construction of the Schiedamseweg was completed.

On March 31, 1943 , Rotterdam-West was hit by the bombing of Rotterdam-West . The western half of the Schiedamseweg was destroyed. This bombing killed about 400 people and left 16,000 homeless. The neighborhood was rebuilt in the 1950s . The fire boundary at Wattierstraat is still clearly visible in 2007.

In the eighties , the tunnel of the Calandlijn was built under the Schiedamseweg between the Coolhaven and the Marconiplein . The Schiedamseweg was closed for years because of this construction. The construction method used is that of the shell tunnel, where the floor of the tunnel was built on site and the roof of the tunnel was supplied in segments from elsewhere.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Aelbrechtskolk (Aelbrecht Waterway)

2) Aelbrechtskolk (Aelbrecht Waterway)

The now picturesque part of Rotterdam, popular for its delightful residential and commercial properties, the Aelbrechtskolk area in the historic Delfshaven district is a former canal-lock. It was built in the early 15th century after Aelbrecht van Beieren, Count of Holland and Zeeland, had granted Delft the right to dig its own schie (waterway) to the Maas river in 1389.

The result was that the Delfshavense Schie, discharged into the river between the ports of Schiedam and Rotterdam, allowed Delft to benefit solely from the hefty port dues. The canal opening in the dyke, which could be closed at high water by a sturdy lock, was made around 1400.

The original sluis (lock ) in Aelbrechtskolk was located where today's Café De Oude Sluis is. In 1594 it was replaced and moved. Many other local buildings also had to go eventually, to make way for the new Schiedamseweg, which was extended to the Binnenweg around 1910 to create a direct link between Schiedam and Rotterdam.

Most of the buildings around the Aelbrechtskolk are historically important and listed as the National Heritage. Among them is the Oude- or Pelgrimvaderskerk, the old church where the Pilgrim Fathers (a group of English Puritans) had spent a night praying before embarking on their perilous journey across the Atlantic to America in 1620.
Voorhaven (Outer Harbor)

3) Voorhaven (Outer Harbor)

The Voorhaven (“outer harbor”) in Delfshaven, Rotterdam is exactly what its name suggests. This harbor was dug in 1389 as part of the construction of the Delfshavense Schie (waterway) between Overschie and the Nieuwe Maas, and functioned as an outer harbor for the then inland city of Delft (separate from Rotterdam).

The very term “outer harbor” means that it lies in front of the actual harbor or canal/lock, and the Voorhaven of Rotterdam-Delfshaven is one of the earliest and perfect examples of such in the Netherlands.

Originally, the Voorhaven was situated outside the dykes (i.e. between Schielands Hoge Zeedijk and the Nieuwe Maas) and the Aelbrechtskolk was the lock. After the opening of the Ruigeplaatsluis in 1875, the Voorhaven was free of tides.

The direct connection between the Voorhaven and the Nieuwe Maas was closed in 1968 by the Westzeedijk. Since then, the connection to the Nieuwe Maas has been via the Achterhaven, the Coolhaven and the Parksluizen.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Molen de Distilleerketel (Distilling Kettle Mill)

4) Molen de Distilleerketel (Distilling Kettle Mill)

The historical landscape of Delfshaven would not be complete without a windmill. Fortunately, the neighborhood has retained one of its own – the last mill standing in the heart of Rotterdam, alongside some other pre-war buildings.

Known as the Distilleerketel (“Distilling Kettle”), this windmill was originally built in 1727 and was meant to grind malt for distilleries; hence, probably, the name. Or, perhaps, it was due to the actual structure resembling a kettle – a cylindrical 10-meter tower, made of stone, crowned with a cap.

The mill burned down in 1899 but was rebuilt, some eleven meters away from its original site. During the rebuild, though, the hull was made one meter higher, rendering the new structure somewhat slimmer than its predecessor. It was again partially destroyed by bombing in 1940 during WWII. The Distilleerketel was fully restored in 1986, attesting to which is the Latin inscription on the green-and-white decorative board: "1727-1940 MULTUORUM CIVIUM OPERA RESURREXI AD MCMLXXXVI", which means "1727-1940 THROUGH MANY CITIZENS' LABOR RESTORED IN 1986".

The Molenwinkel van Delfshaven shop, selling various flour products made at the mill, was opened in September 2018. Also on sale here are coffee, tea and treats from Virginia's Kitchen, as well as souvenirs from different regions of the Netherlands.

To learn more about this windmill and the Dutch windmill culture, plus to enjoy a great view of historic Delfshaven and downtown Rotterdam from the upper deck, take a 15-minute tour for a small fee.

Opening Hours:
Wednesday, Saturday: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dutch Pinball Museum

5) Dutch Pinball Museum

Another prominent attraction in the historic Delfshaven is the Dutch Pinball Museum (Nederlands Flipperkastmuseum). Just as its name suggests, the museum is dedicated entirely to the history of pinball machines. It was opened in August 2015 in a former warehouse on the Rijnhaven, with the remnants of the Port Railway still seen in front of the entrance.

Presented in the museum are approximately 120 pinball machines, spread over two floors. The majority of them are in full working order and can be played. Older exhibits, such as the first pinball machine with flippers from 1947, called the Humpty Dumpty, are found on the ground floor.

The floor upstairs is reserved for the newer exhibits, dating from the 1960s through the present, including the latest ones from the 21st century. Among these you can see the Addams Family, the Doctor Who, the Revenge from Mars, and the Indiana Jones pinball machines, to mention but a few.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Pilgrim Fathers Church

6) Pilgrim Fathers Church

The history of the Old or Pilgrim Fathers' Church goes back as far as 1417, when the Roman Catholic church of St Anthony was consecrated on this site. The oldest known depiction of the church dates from 1512. In 1574 during the Reformation, the church came into Protestant hands and was altered to suit its new function.

In 1608 a group of English Dissenters fled to the Netherlands. They had left the Church of England a few years before and founded their own religious community. After living in Leiden for eleven years, they decided to become Pilgrims and cross to America, where they might worship God in their own way and still be Englishmen. The Speedwell left Delfshaven, on 21 July 1620, bound for America. According to the chronicles the Pilgrim Fathers knelt down in prayer on the quay near the church. Much later, American visitors gave the church its third name, Pilgrim Fathers' Church.

The Old or Pilgrim Fathers' Church has a spacious and light interior. Arches, plastered white, divide the nave from the aisles. Commemorative panels, bearing the names of the vicars who served the community from 1574 adorn the otherwise bare walls. The richly carved pulpit dates from the eighteenth century.

As usual in Dutch Protestant churches, the pulpit stands within a rectangular enclosure. Here, the members of the church council sat during services and here, baptism was administered. The stained-glass windows in the choir represent the six days of Creation. It has a 44-bell carillon but the oldest bell, which was cast in 1464, is cracked and is now on display in the church.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
De Pelgrim Brewery

7) De Pelgrim Brewery

In a beer-loving country like The Netherlands it's no wonder to find a plethora of regional and even seasonal brews. Quite naturally, the city of Rotterdam is no exception in this respect and has its own landmark brewery, called De Pelgrim (“The Pilgrim”), where award-wining beers are brewed using local water and the best-sourced ingredients including aromatic hops and pure yeast.

The brewery is sitting next to the Pilgrim Fathers’ Church, hence the name, and as such is a distinctive local attraction. Operational since May 9, 1996, this is the first ever brewery in Rotterdam – a city where, prior to that, no other beer-making facility had been present.

De Pelgrim's building, dating from 1580, was initially designed to accommodate the Town Hall of Delfshaven (then a separate municipality from Rotterdam). Centuries later, Harry van de Wiel, a beer lover and entrepreneur, saw it as a perfect location for his long-coveted brewing business.

The result has been a beautiful, traditional brewing installation whose signature robust, artisanal beers now can be enjoyed, both draught and bottled (0.75L and 3L units), in De Pelgrim’s own Tasting Room as well as other establishments throughout the city.

Two varieties are brewed here permanently: Pelgrim 1580 and Mayflower Tripel, where the former is a fresh bitter based on the Altbier from Düsseldorf, Germany; and the latter has a full spicy flavor thanks to the special hops added. It is also possible to request your own brew, subject to available options. Just make sure to get your precious purchase properly packaged afterwards for a long trip back home.

Opening Hours:
Wednesday-Saturday: 12 pm-12 am; Sunday: 12 pm-10 pm; Monday and Tuesday: closed.
Image Courtesy of Alicia Rojas De Croes.
Piet Heynstraat (Piet Heyn Street)

8) Piet Heynstraat (Piet Heyn Street)

The Piet Heynstraat is a street in the Rotterdam borough of Delfshaven, named after the 17th-century navigator Piet Heyn, who was born in this street.

The Piet Heynstraat is located in the Delfshaven district . The area where the Piet Heynstraat is located is also called Old Delfshaven . The Piet Heynstraat starts at the Voorhaven and ends after about 50 meters at the Piet Heynplein . On the Piet Heynplein is the statue of Piet Hein.

On November 25, 1577, the well-known Dutch navigator Piet Heyn was born in Delfshaven. The street was then called Kerkstraat , after the adjacent Oude Kerk . Piet Heyn was a naval hero who became famous for conquering a Spanish silver fleet in 1628 . The house where Piet Heyn was born was demolished in the 19th century . In 1871 a new building in old Dutch style was built, which is today known as Piet-Heynshuis. It is located at Piet Heynstraat, 6.

Piet Heynstraat has had its current name since 1870 .
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Piet Heyn Monument

9) Piet Heyn Monument

The Piet Heyn Monument is a memorial from 1870 to the navigator Piet Hein in the Delfshaven district.

The navigator Piet Heyn was born in 1577 in Delfshaven. He was commander of the West India Company and made it to lieutenant admiral of Holland and West Friesland. In the summer of 1867, a number of men, including master stonemason Hoogh, conceived a plan to make a statue of snow in the winter. They had a bas-relief made of Hein, after a drawing by Arnold Houbraken . At the beginning of January 1868, a large snow sculpture was erected at night , which received much acclaim from the local population. Mayor Rösener Manz then took the initiative to erect a real statue . A committee was formed under his chairmanship and a fundraising campaign started. Prince Hendrik was honorary president.

Later in 1869, sculptor Joseph Graven from 's-Hertogenbosch was commissioned to make the statue. Because a bronze version would become too expensive, it was decided to erect it in sandstone from Udelfangen.

The three-meter high statue shows Piet Hein full-length, dressed in a surcoat and boots. It depicts the moment he gives the command to attack the Dunkirk hijackers . He has the commander's staff in his right hand, and the hilt of his sword with his left hand . A cannon and anchor are placed at Hein's feet. The face is modeled after Houbraken's portrait.

The pedestal was made by stonemason Hoogte. The pedestal, almost three meters high, is made of Escauzijn stone, natural stone from the Écaussinnes quarry .

On 17 October 1870, the monument was unveiled in the presence of King William III , Prince Henry, King Loudon's Commissioner and Ministers Fock and Brocx . Following 19th-century custom, the statue was initially surrounded by a man-sized iron fence . The statue was included in the Monuments Register as a national monument in 1973 .
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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