Arty Oasis

Explore: Charlois

There’s a special little village in Rotterdam-Zuid called Charlois, or Sharloys as the locals pronounce it with their rolling Rotterdam accent. In recent years it has become a haven for artists and is a nice place to take a stroll.
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Words: Evelien Baks
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It’s impossible to miss the Oude Kerk Charlois, an impressive brick building in the middle of the Charloisse Kerksingel. With its 17th-century tower, it is the main landmark of Charlois, that ancient area once belonging to Charles the Bold, or Charles of Burgundy. He named the place Charolais after a French county of the same name. Rotterdammers have since butchered the name to Sharloys.
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Charlois Kerksingel
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On the city’s right bank, it is all hip and happening. Charlois, in contrast, is an oasis of calm. People sit reading on park benches, a woman takes her dog for a run… But don’t be fooled by this peaceful scene. There’s a lot going on behind the walls of all those historic buildings, and over the years Charlois has become haven for local and international artists and designers.
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The former director of Rotterdam Museum, Hans Walgenbach, now sells art and art books in Charlois. Why there, you may ask? Because of the genuine old Rotterdam feel to the place and diversity of the people living there, Walgenbach once said. Browse the photographs and bookshelves in his shop and view the art exhibition and sale.
Gouwstraat 15 (Thurs-Sat 12pm-5pm),
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Walk-in shop
Love second-hand stuff? Ever wanted to own an original gilt tea service? Pop in to the Inloopwinkel (walk-in shop) on de Gouwstraat where great bargains are to be had in clothes, shoes, toys and household goods.
Gouwstraat 36b (Wed & Fri 3pm-8pm)
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Japanese cultural centre
The Japanese garden and cultural centre, Shofukan, is hidden away down at the end of an alleyway located just across from the church. Participate in Zen meditation sessions and Shinto exercises or experience a traditional tea ceremony. The centre’s events diary includes the dates of upcoming tea sessions (booking required) and a cultural festival scheduled for the end of November. When leaving the garden be sure to check out the photogenic little houses situated down the alleyway.
Charloisse Kerksingel 32-14,
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Tot Gouw
Four artists and designers have joined forces and set up their workshops in an old corner building where they work under the name Tot Gouw. Among them is artist, Caroline Grootenboer, who makes felt bags, lamps and cushions. Textielfabrique and Atelier Joy have studios in the basement, where art, jewellery and handwoven scarves are created. If the door is open, pop in for a look!
Gouwstraat 56c,
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Historic Charlois Foundation (Stichting Historisch Charlois)
Interested in learning more about this unique neighbourhood? The Historic Charlois Foundation is keeping Charlois’s memories alive. View the display of historic photos in their old pre-war exhibition space. Entry is free.
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How to get there
If biking, take the cycle tunnel under the Nieuwe Maas, which goes to a depth of 17 metres — an experience it itself. Pedestrians, take the walking tunnel. Alternatively, from Katendrecht (near the SS Rotterdam) catch the bicycle and pedestrian ferry to Charlois. Operates Mon – Fri from 7am-10am and 3.30pm-6.30pm.
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[Header photo by Bert Hoogveld]

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