The transport system is very well developed. The rail network covers (2016) 3,058 km, 76% of which are electrified. Around 330 million passengers are transported annually on the routes of the national railway N.V. Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The Betuwe route, opened in 2007, aims to improve freight transport between Rotterdam and Germany. A high-speed line between Amsterdam and Antwerp opened in 2009.
The development of the road network (length in 2016: 139 100 km) is considered excellent; the expressway network covers 3,654 km. With a vehicle density of (2015) 469 cars per 1,000 residents, the road network is relatively often overloaded, especially in the metropolitan areas. – The bicycle is a very popular means of transport in the Netherlands and is promoted by generous cycle paths and cycle lanes.
Due to the favorable location in the confluence of the Rhine, Maas and Schelde, which open up a wide hinterland, large overseas ports have developed in the Netherlands. The ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam play a leading role in this. Rotterdam is the fifth largest port in the world and the largest container transshipment port in Europe with a cargo handling of (2015) 466 million t (of which around 45% crude oil). 98.8 million tons are handled in the Port of Amsterdam. Inland navigation plays a decisive role in the cross-border movement of goods. The Rhine shipping is an important feeder of the seaports and increasingly also transports containers from Rotterdam to the hinterland of the Rhine basin. Other important waterways are the Meuse, the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the North Sea Canal, the Nieuwe Waterweg, the Eemskanaal and the Rhine-Scheldt Canal (the total length of the waterways for inland waterways is 6 237 km, of which 3 821 km are canals).
The natural gas pipeline TENP (Trans-Europe-Naturalgas-Pipeline) leads via Luxembourg and Switzerland to Italy; further lines go to Paris, the Ruhr area and southern Germany. Crude oil pipelines lead to the Rhine-Main area and a product pipeline to Ludwigshafen am Rhein.
The largest airline is KLM. Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport is one of the largest European airports in the freight sector (2016: 1.7 million t) and in the passenger sector (63.6 million passengers). There are other regional airports in Rotterdam, Maastricht and Groningen.
Waterways for commerce
Nobody knows whether Amsterdam has more bridges and waterways than Venice. Its many canals, the Grachten, suggest a comparison with Venice. They divide the city into around 70 islands, which are connected by around 1,200 bridges. Like Venice, Amsterdam is built on unsustainable land. Before a house could be built on the boggy area, tree trunks had to be rammed deep into the ground for each building in order to achieve a stable layer of sand. The huge number of 13,659 stakes were required for the royal palace on Dam Square alone, the center of the old town.
The canals are like a belt around the old town; they initially served the defense and secured the merchant town against the land side. The merchants used the canals for the transport of goods, on them the ships came from the Zuidersee directly to the city center. The first canals built around 1300 were the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. As early as 1380 the city had to be expanded, Oudezijds Achterburgwal and Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal were created, and Singel, Geldersekade and Kloveniersburgwal were added in the 15th century. Finally, in 1610, work began according to the plans of the carpenter Hendrick Jacobsz. Staets (* around 1558, † 1631) with the construction of the semicircular canal belt from Heren, Keizers and Prinsengracht, which gives the city its special flair.
Structurally, clear differences can be seen: in the older part, Renaissance buildings made of brick dominate, the younger part has sandstone palaces. In general, the class affiliation of the residents can be read from the canal architecture. The town houses of the nobility and wealthy merchants were located on the Herengracht. These buildings are significantly wider than the others. Since the lots on the canals were expensive and the tax was calculated according to the width of the house, the lots were narrow. But wealthy citizens could also afford so-called double parcels. The bourgeoisie lived in more modest houses on the Keizersgracht, while the apartments and workshops of the craftsmen were to be found on the Prinsengracht.
What is remarkable about the canal houses are the different gable shapes, which provide information about the construction time. The oldest are the stepped gables, they are the most famous and were built between 1580 and 1665. Between 1620 and 1720 the beaked gable was used in the construction of warehouses. This simple gable shape runs diagonally to the roof ridge and is closed at the top by a rectangular attachment. Between 1640 and 1770, buildings with a neck gable were built. In the middle of the house a rectangle rises like a neck, which is closed by a mostly triangular gable crown. The sides are mostly decorated with stucco work. A variant of the neck gable is the bell gable used between 1660 and 1790. The sides are curved bell-shaped and richly decorated with stucco.
According to ehistorylib, Rotterdam is Dutch port city in the mouth of the Rhine on the New Maas, with 638 700 residents. The inner city, which was largely destroyed in 1940, was rebuilt. Rotterdam is an important industrial city and the most important seaport and freight transshipment point as well as the largest oil processing center in the world. The city is connected to the North Sea by the Nieuwe Waterweg, a 33 km long canal without locks (built 1866–72), at the mouth of which the new Europoort and Maasvlakte port facilities are located. Ferry boats to Great Britain operate from the outer port of Hook of Holland. – Rotterdam was »European City of Culture 2001«.