All I ever heard about this harbour city is that, after being bombed flat during WW2, Rotterdam was completely rebuilt by some visionary architects who made it the modern and out-of-the-way urban jungle that it is today.
Crossing its wide, busy roads feels like walking through a city; the water surfaces (which are usually so large I won’t call them ‘canals’) reflecting the skyscrapers blinking lights at night look like the open sky dotted with stars.
Since the moment I first stepped into Utrech from the back of the train station, I felt ‘something different’ hovering in the crisp winter air. It was something I haven’t ever experienced in Amsterdam, something tangible in the streets and – yet – seemingly impossible to pinpoint.
When I asked locals what’s giving Ghent its edge, they all replied that Ghent is a rebellious city. I’ve spoken with artists, students and middle-aged people from different backgrounds and interests and, although each one understood this trait slightly differently -stubbornness, vanguard, insurgency, critical thought, independence, unconventionality-, they all agreed in portraying Ghent as a city that can’t be -and won’t be- anyhow controlled.
Amsterdam is unlike any other city for the Iranian activist-artist brothers Icy & Sot.
Amsterdam is where they had their first solo exhibition abroad in 2011, taking their first step into the international art scene. It was an internationally acclaimed first step at that, which eventually let them to escape the persecution and censorship they experienced in their home country.
Blessed by the sun, we made the most of this very “undutch” day by taking a tour of the beautiful gardens, the picturesque towns, and the historic castles and fortresses that once protected Amsterdam.
Those fortresses formed a 135-kilometre-long ring of fortifications that have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.