Saturday, February 2, 2013

Melanchton Park

Rotterdam - places of pilgrimage - 5

This afternoon I took my bicycle to inspect some parks in the North of Rotterdam. I had memories of one park looking like London. A green area surrounded by city buildings. Tops of city buildings poking through treetops. I was not sure then which park it was: the Melanchton or the Argonaut park.
Now I am sure : it was the Argonaut park. But I went in search of the London effect anyway, even though I was in the wrong place.
And doing some web research afterwards I got the idea for a new exploration project: to visit all the parks of Rotterdam. According to the city council there are 19 of them. I only know 7 of these in detail. And if you don't know a place in detail it does not count as "knowledge".

The Melanchtonpark has a strange geometry. It is all circumference and no surface. You can look into it from all sides, but it is difficult to be inside it. The municipal website describes it thus:
The Melanchtonpark in the municipality of Hillegersberg-Schiebroek was constructed in the mid-1970s. ' Back to nature ' was the trend at that time and you can see that in the design of the park. With its playful paths and varied vegetation you can imagine being inside a forest.
It is not possible to imagine being in a forest, with all these expensive houses in the neighborhood. You need other parks for that, like the Kralingse Plas (Kralingen Lake). But the website is correct in describing the variety of trees. And I think I saw the birds, just in a flash:
    The view of the houses is obscured by alder, maple, oak, beech and pollarded willows. There are many small songbirds. For example: the long-tailed tit, a nice little ball-shaped bird with a long tail, that flies in groups from tree to tree.
Parks are places to meet surreptitiously. To hold cryptic conversations. To have statues looking down on you. (There are none in this park. There should be!)
They had reached the top of the steps. The founder of India, one foot casually upon a plateau of vanquished bronze, stared contentedly past them into the glades of the Park.
'They've kept the doors open.' His voice was tender with reverence. 'They're on the weekday schedule. My, they are going it. Well,' he remarked, receiving no admiring echo, 'you go your way, I go mine. Mind you,' he added shrewdly, 'it could do us a lot of good.  

Parks are places to leave mysterious objects to be retrieved by strangers. Dead drops, dead letter boxes.
A cool, cleaning wind was blowing from the south; he could have walked all day. But he still had the parcel and he had to get rid of it. The little wastebaskets were too small; he'd look absurd trying to push his parcel into one of those. He sat down on a bench and put the parcel beside him, not too close, and moved a little away from it. After a couple of minutes he walked back toward the footpath, leaving the parcel where it lay.
And parks are places to see apparitions. And to not be sure if you've seen them or not. Like with the "London effect". With a lot of effort I could see high buildings through the trees, but they did not look metropolitan.
He turned down the empty street toward the park. It was foggy. Some way down the road - not far, twenty yards, perhaps a bit more - stood the figure of a man in a raincoat, short and rather plump. He was leaning against the railings of the park, silhouetted in the shifting mist. As he approached, the mist seemed to thicken, closing in around the figure at the railings, and when it parted the man was gone.
List of parks in Rotterdam -
Melanchtonpark -
Ball-shaped birds -
Description of several parks and their trees -


  1. Interesting, parks do seem to be different from other places, I like your random drifts, inspiring stuff!

  2. Great pictures, interesting geography.What is "The London effect"?
    I'm also interested in psycho-geography.

    1. By the London effect I mean:
      A place that is not in London or england but that reminds one of Londons Hyde Park. There you are in a green park but you sense the big town all around you. You see tops of buildings above the trees, you hear the traffic around the park. There is a positive, stimulating contrast between park and city.