De Hef

The monumental lift bridge that used to connect railroad traffic from the North and South of the Netherlands.

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National heritage site De Hef

De Hef (which means lever) is a steel railroad bridge that connects the Noordereiland Island in the river Maas with the Southern district Feyenoord in Rotterdam. The Hef bridge Rotterdam was built in 1877 as a moving swing bridge to connect railroad traffic in the North of the Netherlands with the South. De Hef was part of a long railroad bridge that ran straight through the city of Rotterdam.

Western Europe´s first lift bridge

In 1918, a German steamship ran into the swing bridge and destroyed it. The original lift bridge was replaced by a movable swing bridge which was completed in 1927. De Hef Rotterdam was the first rail bridge of its kind in Western Europe. De Hef is operated by two 60 meter high towers with huge concrete counterweights to lift the bridge deck. This construction allows big ships to pass under the bridge.

Replacement by railroad tunnel

In 1993, the Willems railroad tunnel was opened to replace De Hef in Rotterdam and other railroad bridges. Nowadys trains pass the river Maas underwater and a big part of the city of Rotterdam underground. Nowadays De Hef is not in use anymore, but you can still see the railroad tracks at the bridge. The Hef bridge in Rotterdam is always open for visitors and is a Dutch national heritage site. The Hef is located in the vicinity of the modern Unilever office building in Rotterdam. The Hef’s official name is Koningshavenbrug Rotterdam. This contrast is typical for the architecture in Rotterdam.