When you’re being rotated through 360 degrees nearly 200 metres in the air it’s possible to truly appreciate the transitory nature of life, and marvel at the extraordinarily flatness of the Dutch landscape. At the top of Rotterdam’s Euromast you can see for miles (even further in kilometres), the most striking feature is that there isn’t a single hill to be seen anywhere. Which explains why you can see all the way to The Hague some 30km away.
The views from the Euromast are spectacular: a perspective normally only granted to birds and pilots. Towering over Rotterdam’s many skyscrapers you get an unrivalled view of the city and you can finally see how all the waterways connect. The numbers speak for themselves: 185 metres high, 600 steps (it does have elevators), anchored by a concrete block weighing 1.9 million kilograms and views that stretch for 50km on a clear day. The Euromast wasn’t just constructed for views though.
When it was built in the 1960s it was a symbol of the new spirit of Europe, a post-war experiment in unity that sprang up after the cataclysm and horror of the Second World War. At that time, before the eastward expansion of the European Union to the former Soviet-bloc countries, the Euromast stood centrally in Western Europe and was meant to inspire hope for the future.
In the early 1960s the future seemed in doubt. The Cold War at its height, the Cuban Missile Crisis arrived two years after the Euromast was built, and with Europe physically divided by the ‘Iron Curtain’ European unity was a serious business. The Euromast is still pretty inspiring today, even if the politics of Europe have become retrograde in recent times.
Approaching from a distance, I could see what looked like string dangling off the side of the tower. Walking a little closer this turned out to be some people abseiling down from approximately 100 metres up the Euromast. Call me unadventurous, but that seemed like an unnecessary thing to be doing when you could be admiring the view instead.
Inside the base of the tower an elevator whisks you upwards at 4 metres per second, to a height of slightly over 100m; a few stairs then carry you up to the departure point of a rotating capsule which carries you up the Space Tower for another 85m, all the while giving you 360 degree panoramas over the city. It’s magnificent, although the person operating the rotating capsule had clearly seen it too many times – rather than drinking in the views he chose to read a book.
These days the Euromast is itself dwarfed by other, taller buildings around the world. The Beijing Radio and TV tower at over 400 metres has a restaurant higher than the Euromast; while, at 828 metres high, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai really does redefine penis envy. That said, the Euromast still sits in ‘heady’ company. While exploring the cityscape of Rotterdam from 185 metres in the air, I discovered the Euromast is a member of The World Federation of Great Towers.
If you’re not a member of that exclusive club you’re no one in the tower world…