A historic quarter of Rotterdam, Delfshaven is on the River Nieuwe Maas and managed to withstand the worst of the nearby bombings that took place during World War II. The town first grew in importance as part of the trading port of Delft and began to thrive in the 14th century as the base of the Dutch East India Company. The area grew rich through fishing, shipbuilding and the trading of jenever (Dutch gin) before being subsumed into Rotterdam in 1886.
Delfshaven is an appealing district of photogenic gabled buildings that formerly served as warehouses, with yachts and barges moored up along the quaysides. The area is chiefly notable for including the original point of departure for the Pilgrims in 1620. The Speedwell left Delfshaven for the new world on August 1, stopped over at Plymouth in the United Kingdom to pick up the Mayflower and then went on to establish an English colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Delfshaven is dedicated to the Pilgrim Fathers, while Rotterdam’s only brewery, Brewery de Pelgrim, is appropriately named as well.
Delfshaven is also known as the birthplace of Piet Hein, a naval officer who captured a Spanish treasure fleet in 1628 during the Eighty Years’ War and brought great riches back to the Netherlands. His monument stands on the waterfront, and today the district’s waterfront is lined with cafes, shops and bars, including a lovely old jenever-tasting proeflokaal on Havenstraat.
Paid parking is available at the World Port Center. Visitors can reach Delfshaven from the city center by taking Metro A, B or C, none of which offer the option to pay with cash. Brewery de Pelgrim is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 4:30 p.m. and can be toured for €10.