10 In Europe/ Netherlands/ Rotterdam

Open Monumentendag Rotterdam: Seeking De Hef and Het Witte Huis

Open Monument Day Rotterdam

The Open Monumentendag Rotterdam was a great success with great weather, in combination with the Wereld Haven Dagen on the same weekend. Monument locations such as De Hef, Maastunnel, Het Witte Huis and the Van Nelle Fabriek could be visited by the public. We tagged along some locations with our camera in hand!

This post was written after the 2018 event and not sponsored. 

What Is Open Monumentendag?

Open Monumentendag translates to Open Monument Day and Heritage Day, a weekend where monuments are open to the public for free and for tours. The Open Monumentendag Rotterdam is a foundation formed by the Open Monumentendag Rotterdam (ANBI) in the city of Rotterdam, however this weekend also takes place in many European countries. The Open Monument Days takes place once a year, which originally started in the Netherlands in 1987. The event became more successful with 11 countries participating by 1991, and now by 2018 is has increased to 48 countries.

The theme for 2018 is ‘In Europe‘, showing how Europe can be seen in Rotterdam and reverse with Rotterdam in Europe.

Inside the Hef on open monumentendag Rotterdam

What can you expect from Open Monumentendag Rotterdam?

Buildings such as the iconic De Hef, Groothandels Gebouw, Van Nelle Fabriek and the Maastunnel can be visited throughout the weekend. Take a look at the monuments map on the Open Monumentendag Website for Rotterdam. There were 65 locations you can visit throughout the city for 2018!

Most monuments you are free to visit during the event, however some locations you need to pay a small price for a tour. This is often for monuments that have a maximum capacity of visitors in one day. Locations such as De Hef tour that we had chosen. This was only €3.50 per person which we were very happy to pay as we really wanted to visit the iconic Rotterdam bridge!

To book a spot on one of the tours for the city of Rotterdam you simply reserve your tickets in advance on their website before the event.

open monumentendag Rotterdam at the top of a rooftop view

De Hef

De Hef, also known as Koningshavenbrug, was built in 1927. Originally connecting the area of Feijenoord and the Noordereiland with the Rotterdam City Center. Designed by Peiter Joostling, the bridge was the first of it’s kind in Western Europe.

In World War Two, May 14th 1940 the bridge was severly damaged during the German bombings of Rotterdam.

It has not been in use since 1993 as trains travel through the Willemsspoortunnel underground. But has had a full restoration in 2017 and now an official monument.

De Hef was once nominated to be demolished, but after strong protests from local Rotterdammers it was saved.

Tour of de Hef on open monumentendag Rotterdam

A Tour of De Hef

We participated with a tour that started at 11:00am on the Sunday. I was super excited to know that I’d be on the bridge! A bridge that I have walked past on evening walks for the last 7 years as an expat, a bridge I have always been fascinated to climb and a bridge I love learning more about.

Starting together as a group of 15 at the base of the Feijenoord area, we walked together to the entrance on the south side. From here we went through the door and along the edge of the Hef. This leads you straight to the office and machine room. Here we were given a little history of the bridge by an ex employee who used to work as a machinist there. He likely has some of the best knowledge and many questions were asked!

Tour of de Hef

Tour of de Hef on open monumentendag Rotterdam

After the little talk we could all spread out either outside on the balcony area or inside from the machine room. From the balcony we watched them move the middle section of the bridge. We picked to stand outside for the best view, where the bridge was moving from below to above.

Tour of de Hef on open monumentendag Rotterdam

From here we could explore more of the machine room and office area. Unfortunately we couldn’t climb any higher (we wish!) but could walk back and look through the bridge instead which is just as unique.

Tour of de Hef

Tour of de Hef on open monumentendag Rotterdam

Tour of de Hef

Tour of de Hef machine room on open monumentendag Rotterdam

De Witte Huis

On September 8th, 2018 was the 120 year anniversary of the Witte Huis opening. We have visited the rooftop before during the Rotterdam Rooftop Days event, but couldn’t resist to visit again!

A volunteer at the top was explaining some of the history while you could look and take photos. During World War Two, Dutch soldiers were defending the northern side of the city from the Witte Huis. When you are standing outside, take a look up the side and see bullet holes and damage.

The views from the Witte Huis are always enjoyable. With 360° views with the Oude Haven, Willemsbrug, Markthal and Wijnhaven.

The view from the Witte Huis on open monumentendag Rotterdam

The view from the Witte Huis on open monumentendag Rotterdam

The view from the Witte Huis on open monumentendag Rotterdam

The view from the Witte Huis on open monumentendag Rotterdam

Read more of our Rotterdam posts! 

Rotterdam Markthal

Rotterdam in Winter

Spring Photoblog of Rotterdam

Rotterdam in Summer

Where To Stay In Rotterdam

The Famous Cubic Houses

Rotterdam Museum ’40-’45 NU

Rotterdam Rooftop Days


You should definitely take part in the Open Monumentendag Rotterdam for next year. It is interesting to be able to explore buildings that are usually closed to the public. You are given more access than usual and guided by a volunteer that really knows what they are talking about!

Tips for your visit:

  • Prepare for the weather with your clothing and walking shoes
  • Take your camera for those unique photo opportunities
  • Plan your weekend itinerary well using the map based on the locations of the monuments you will be visiting
  • Plan also because some monuments only open on one day of the weekend

Pin for later:

Tour private locations and unique sites for free on Open monumentendag RotterdamTour private locations and unique sites for free on Open monumentendag RotterdamTour private locations and unique sites for free on Open monumentendag Rotterdam

Have you visited the Open Monument Day in your city or country? We’d love to hear in the comments! 

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  • Reply
    19th September 2018 at 4:52 pm

    The Open Monumentendag is a great initiative! A tour of De Hef looks awesome, especially since you could see the machines as well.

  • Reply
    Sinjana Ghosh
    19th September 2018 at 7:39 pm

    This is an amazing concept. Would love to visit Europe in Monument day!

  • Reply
    Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists
    19th September 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Huh I’ve never heard of Open Monumentendag but it sounds fun! Is it super popular?

  • Reply
    Anwesha Guha
    19th September 2018 at 8:15 pm

    The Open Monument Day sounds like a fun day to roam around and go to your favourite tours. To be able to visit places which are usually closed for the public is a very nice opportunity. How the security aspect of this is handled?

  • Reply
    19th September 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I had no idea open monument day has spread to 48 countries already! I always love to explore a new place this way, you get to experience something truly unique and local in an affordable way. Super nice! Even if I won´t even try to pronounce the name of the sites you visited in Rotterdam 😀

  • Reply
    Gwen Kleist
    20th September 2018 at 7:02 am

    This looks like such an interesting place to check out! Your photos are great. I definitely want to go here some time and see what it is all about! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Nafisa Habib
    20th September 2018 at 8:16 am

    Good to know first-time all about Open Monumentendag Rotterdam. That’s really very cool to be able to explore some monuments which usually not open for public. Cool photos!

  • Reply
    20th September 2018 at 5:42 pm

    How awesome! I love that the De Hef tour was done by an ex-machinist, there’s probably no one with more knowledge of how the bridge works. My uncle was a fitter/machinist and he can pretty much fix anything, I’ve got a lot of respect for them.

  • Reply
    20th September 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Looks like a place i should plan for the weekend! Lovely photos!

  • Reply
    21st September 2018 at 8:08 am

    I love it when museums and public monuments are free for locals and visitors to check. I was visiting Paris once and it was on this day and I had so much fun. I’d love to have the same experience in Rotterdam and see so many of the sights you point out. The bridge experience sounds like a lot of fun. Great article and tips!

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