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Markthal (Market Hall)
Rotterdam's is weird and wonderful. The one-of-a-kind building surrounds nearly 100 market stalls, shops, and restaurants with a giant arch that contains 228 apartments.
R, the second-largest city in the Netherlands, has earned a reputation as a hotbed of modern architecture.
The city is filled with innovative buildings and structures, such as the Erasmus Bridge, the Cube Houses, and a whole slew of imaginative and occasionally goofy-looking skycrapers.
But for sheer whimsy and playfulness, it's hard to beat the, or Market Hall, which has wowed locals, tourists, and urbanists since it was completed in 2014.
The Markthal occupies a site near thethat was covered with asphalt when we first visited Rotterdam in 2006. At that time, an outdoor market took place a couple of times a week, but on other days the expanse of pavement was depressing.
Now, thanks to a forward-thinking city government and MVRDV (an international architectural firm based in Rotterdam), the site has a €175 million "sustainable combination of food, leisure, living, and parking" that has become one of Rotterdam's premier tourist attractions for cityphiles and urban-design buffs.
For more information, see Wikipedia's article, Rotterdam Tourist Information's page, MVRDV's illustrated description of the project, and the Markthal's official Web site (which has practical information such as busines hours, a mall map, and access by public transportation).
BELOW: Depending on how you approach the Markthal, you may cross a paved square or a footbridge above a vast parking area for bicycles:
BELOW: On the outside walls of the Markthal, you'll see windows and balconies of the 228 apartments within the structure.
The building stands 40 meters or 131 feet high, with 11 floors including four stories underground.
BELOW: The Markthal has two main entrances, including this one near thetrain/tram station and the .
Some restaurants and cafes have their own entrances that provide access outside of the Markthal's normal business hours.
BELOW: Inside, the Markthal's arch-shaped walls and ceiling are covered with a mural titled "Cornucopia" (a.k.a. "Horn of Plenty") by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam.
Subjects of the mural include food, flowers, and insets.
BELOW: At ground level inside the Markthal, you''ll find nearly 100 food stalls, shops, and places to eat or drink.
BELOW: Doughnuts are featured prominently in the Markthal.
(The Dutch doughnut design aesthetic tends to involve frosting and sprinkles.)
BELOW: Dutch cheeses are as colorful as Dutch doughnuts, although you'll need to add your own sprinkles at home.
BELOW: At Dog City Food Co., you can order a variety of snacks (including traditional Dutch herring, as shown on the banner above the counter).
BELOW: You can take your food and drink purchases to picnic tables for eating.
During busy times--including the lunch hour--you may need to share a table with strangers or wait for other patrons to leave.
BELOW: Market stalls offer nuts, fresh produce, flowers, and other items.
BELOW: Escalators lead down to a full-service, an educational area, and underground parking.
BELOW: We had dinner one night at , a Teutonic-themed restaurant on the ground floor of the Markthal.
Durant ordered the Jägerschnizel, shown in
the foreground, and Cheryl chose a