The A16 highway, east of the Kralingse Plas marks a border. Cross it, and you’ll enter another country, that’s not marked on any map, and not many are even aware of its existence. Which is surprising, since it’s the largest of all European countries – Suburbia. A blissfully peaceful country, it is devoid of mass tourism. In fact, it is devoid of any tourism at all. But those who dare to cross the border into this uncharted land may collect some unexpected rewards here.
Just across the A16 is Het Lage Land, a neighborhood constructed in the 1960s & ’70s, in all likelihood designed after a wet dream of Le Corbusier. Its name means literally “The Low Land”, a suitable name for a neighborhood that lies at almost 7 meters below sea level. It was actually thought that the lowest point of the Netherlands was located here. To commemorate this fact, a huge monument was built, at a hugely monumental cost. The structure is inspiringly titled Vierkant Eiland in de Plas, or “Square Island in the Pond”. Nicknamed “the Vomit Bowl”, its design replaced an original one that was deemed “too spooky” – imagine what that one must have been like!
Ironically, during construction, it was discovered that the lowest point of the Netherlands was a few centimeters lower & a few kilometers Eastward. I find the Square Island in the Pond a strangely soothing monumental reminder of the vanity of all effort. If you’re in a philosophical mood, it’s definitely worth a visit.