Where are the Euro banknote bridges?
Have you ever looked at your fistful of foreign notes while on holiday and wondered why certain buildings appear on the local currency? The British £5 note displays London’s Houses of Parliament, the Vietnamese 20,000 Dong shows a bridge in Hoi Ann, and the Chinese 20 Yuan shows the limestone karsts in Guilin. What about those Euro banknote bridges? Well … you can’t visit them unfortunately as they don’t actually exist! With 13 member states and only seven notes they felt it fairer to create fictitious bridges depicting the various types of European architectural styles instead: Classical Antiquity, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, Iron- and glass architecture plus 20th century architecture.
So who designed them and where are they?
But that didn’t stop architect Robert Stam having the idea of recreating them retrospectively back in 2011. He was inspired by the bridges originally created by Austrian designer Robert Kalina. Robert’s chosen location was a small new housing development in the SW suburbs of Spijkenisse in Rotterdam.
The bridges are actually quite unknown!
Having written an article on seeking out location on banknotes I wanted to scout it out and see if it’s something that’s worth visiting. It didn’t bode well when a conversation in the Rotterdam tourist office drew a blank look. Subsequently after my visit another city representative at the Traverse travel influencer conference gave me the same puzzled stare! “You went where? To see what?” Unperturbed by my first encounter I took the subway from Rotterdam Central Station out to Spijkenisse on the no D line (roughly €7 return and 45 minutes) to see these recreated Euro banknote bridges. Rotterdam’s cycling network is so impressive and the town so flat you might want to cycle the 10km out there and back instead.
If the Euro bridges don’t float your boat then check out some of the other tours on offer in Rotterdam
If you take the train option glance out of the window to your right-hand side as you arrive at Spijkenesse station and you’ll see three of the Euro banknote bridges from the raised railway line. In fact the three bridges are actually four, with the remaining three being parallel to the river on the opposite side. The housing estate was designed to have 6 bridges, so two of the bank notes had to share a bridge! The walk from Spijkenisse station to the first bridge – the green €100 note – takes about five minutes. The bridges are smaller than you might expect and rather less imposing but are true in both colour and design. Well if you‘re creating the bridges you might as well get the design as exact as possible! Each bridge has the same small plaque guiding to you which bridge represents which Euro bank note.
As I only had one €5, €10, €20 and three €50s in my wallet I photographed the other three bridges’ denominations on their own (€100, €200, €500). I did visit a big Sparkasse bank in town but they didn’t have access to any notes to swap my €50s for a €100. What sort of a bank doesn’t actually have access to any money!?
The Euro banknote bridges
The first bridge you reach from the train station is the €100 banknote. Note the cyclist in the bridge for some idea of scale. Also the little green wavey additions look perfectly normal on the actual banknotes but a little odd in real life. Next up was the shared bridge of the €20 and €5 banknotes, with the grey coloured €5 note being the cheapest currency but the most intricate-looking of the lot.
The yellow €200 is pretty nice up close and does its job perfectly well … of being a bridge! On the other side of the housing estate about 200 metres away to the left is a parallel little stream with the remaining three bridges – the €10, €50 and €500 bank notes. All six Euro banknote bridges are all actually very similar in design, adorned with black vertical railings – four designed to take cars and the two most expensive note bridges (the €200 and €500) designed for pedestrians and cyclists only. When I was there in May 2018 the 7-year old housing estate was still being developed so I wasn’t able to cross over the pink €500 bridge due to building works.
So I’m glad I left the city centre to explore another part of Rotterdam. Seeking out the Euro banknote bridges gave me a reason to go to Spijkenesse. Ultimately though what I visted was just a housing estate out in the suburbs with bridges that have been clad in an exterior moulding to replicate the Euro banknotes. Apparently the residents – although bemused at first – are fairly chilled about them now as it’s certainly not on the tourist trail. Was I the only tourist there that hour? Yes. Do many tourists go there to visit? No. Would I recommend you visit the bridges too? Mmmm possibly not, but having read an article on them I was strangely drawn to see what they looked like. Also if anybody ever asks me where the bridges are I know where to point them in the right direction 🙂