The Zalmhuis is the ideal place to enjoy an excellent dinner or a fine cup of coffee. You can come here to gaze across the water and dream of times gone by or to discuss groundbreaking new plans. The Zalmhuis is a historic location where people of all ages and from all walks of life meet to enjoy the dynamic views and everything else the Zalmhuis had to offer.
The Zalmhuis includes the atmospheric 'Brasserie' with ‘Podium’ for your group and the ‘Loungebar’ for your reception, the intimate ‘Le Souterrain’, the characteristic ‘Orangerie’ and ‘La Grande Salle’ with style. The grandeur and ambience of the Brasserie and the Grande Salle are breathtaking.
All rooms feature a private terrace and the Zalmhuis ample free parking on-site. For disabled there is a ground floor entrance and of course you have access to an elevator.
When you think of Holland, you probably don't think of salmon. However, not that long ago, things were very different. Then, this beautiful fish was found in Dutch rivers in huge quantities. In fact, they were teeming with it! Until well into the twentieth century, salmon fishing was the main source of income in villages such as Woudrichem, Ammerstol, Hardinxveld-Giessendam, IJsselmonde, Geertruidenberg and Kralingseveer. The Zalmhuis (The Salmon House), built on the very spot where once hundreds of thousands of salmon were traded, is a monumental reminder of that illustrious period of the Dutch river area.
In Kralingseveer, or Kralingsche Veer, whichever you prefer, people (and animals alike) have been crossing the river from as early as 1333. The crossing probably dates back to the Roman era. Since the Maas and the Hollandsche IJssel meet here, Kralingsveer was a logical place for a ferryman and innkeeper tot take up residence. Later still, a stable for the horses was added. Yet the settlement really became a village when salmon fishing started in earnest, with the construction of the Zalmhuis as the crowning glory.
The history of the Zalmhuis starts in 1863, when Adriaan Dekkers purchased an inn and adjoining cafe at the Hooge Zeedijk. A dome plus yard could be found across the estaminet, as the cafe was referred to in more fashionable circles. In 1875, in the grounds outside the dikes, Dekkers started building a market hall for the auction and sale of salmon, allis shad, ide, whitefish, waite and sturgeon. This market was to grow into the largest salmon auction of the Netherlands. Around 1880, Jan van den Akker, who had meanwhile married Dekkers' daughter, took over the cafe from his father-in-law. He turned it into a flourishing business. In 1896, Van den Akker commissioned a pavlion to be built above the market hall. An outing to cafe Van den Akker quickly became popular among the people in Rotterdam, who on fine Sundays came to Kralingseveer in great numbers to enjoy a delicious salmon sandwich. The pavilion soon became too small and in 1905 Van den Akker was granted a licence for a new pavilion measuring 16 metres long by 5 metres wide, to be built on steel columns and suspended above the water. This was the heyday of the Zalmhuis.
It was in this period that a certain Maarten Visscher worked as an innkeeper in het Zalmhuis. However, he did more than pulling pints. Visscher also transported the ice-packed fresh salmon from the auction to the upper middle classes by carriage and horse. On a hot day, he would leave a trail of melting ice leading all the way to Rotterdam. Maarten Visscher was centainly a stayer: he transported salmon from Kralingeveer to Rotterdam for a staggering 66 years.
The abundance of salmon has given rise to some amusing anecdotes. At the end of the nineteenth century, for instance, rumours were circulating in the river area that servants were rejecting posts if they would have to eat salmon more than once a week. A nice story, but unlikely to be true. As even in the heyday of the fishing business, salmon remained an expensive fish which only the well-to-do could afford. Also, the very same anecdote was recorded by a certain Jacob van Oudenhoven. Yet that was as early as 1654...
Between 1880 and 1914, Europe was captivated by an optimistic and elegant trend in art: art nouveau. The voluptuous forms, wavy lines and numerous decorations which are so characteristic of art nouveau are reflected in architecture, paintings and graphic design as well as in furniture. The style became particularly famous as a result of the posters by the Paris-based Moravian artist Alfonse Mucha and the Belgian architect Victor Horta. Works by the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec also show strong art nouveau influences.
The original Zalmhuis was completed in 1906, when the art nouveau period was at its very peak. Where possible, features of this distinctive style have been incorporated into the rebuilding of the Zalmhuis. Once inside, you cannot escape the atmosphere of olden times. The grandeur and ambiance of the Brasserie and the Grande Salle are simply breathtaking.
Art nouveau is known by many different namens: jugendstil, modern style, Liberty style, new style. It all depends on where you were born. Thanks tot the many curling lines, the trend was also popularly referred to as the spaghetti style.
The Golden Age of art nouveau largely coincided with the heyday of salmon fishing and the salmon auction in Kralingseveer. Halfway through the nineteenth century, the fishing business became more and more professional and profits were rising. In 1885 all salmon records were broken. In Kralingseveer alone, fishermen offered up 104,422 salmon for auction. The total proceeds amounted to 2 million guilders! The flourishing salmon business provided a lot of work, not only for fishermen but also for other businesses. Basket makers, rope makers, cleaners, smokehouses, salteries, cooperages, traders and shipyards all took full advantage of the salmon.
When the Zalmhuis opened its doors in 1906, the salmon population in the rivers already shrinking fast. Many causes which contributed to the downfall of salmon fishing can be identified. Locks and dams in the upper course of the rivers, dug-up ballasts, excessive fishing and pollution all caused the salmon to disappear from the rivers Maas, Lek, IJssel and Rhine. The last professionally caught salmon was in the Maas near Woudrichem in 1954.
The flood disaster of 1953 left a trail of devastation on an unimaginable scale in the South-West of the Netherlands. The floods also meant the beginning of the end for the Zalmhuis. That demise was further accelerated by the booming industrialisation and construction of the Van Brienenoord Bridge. As a result, the ferry became superfluous and when Kralingeveer was transformed due to the reconstruction of the dikes, it was a lost cause altogether. In 1955, the Zalmhuis was demolished. But that's not the end of the story.
In 1990, project developer Johan Rolloos purchased a plot on the border of Rotterdam and Capelle aan den IJssel. He did so, not to build another flashy office giant, but to fulfil an old dream: rebuilding the legendary Zalmhuis. Rolloos was thorough in his approach and received some much-appreciated support from Maarten Visser, the grandson of the former salom driver Maarten Visscher. Due to a lack of floor plans, amateur historian Visser (the 'ch' part of his surname had disappeared without a trace, along with the salmon) conducted interviews with numerous people who could remember the old building or still had pictures of it. On the basis of that information and a pile of old documents, the architect was ready to start work. In 1999, the foundation stone was laid and three years later the Zalmhuis was back again.
Over the years, the role of our rivers has changed considerably. Shipping and fishing still exist, but these days the river also provides entertainment as the success of cruise ships and party boats demonstrates. In addition, the waterways have been rediscovered as efficient transport routes; this includes the use of water taxis and fast ferries. However, throught the centuries one thing has never changed: people meet in places where rivers do the same. With the comeback of the Zalmhuis, that tradition too has returned to Kralingseveer. The Zalmhuis is the ideal place to enjoy an excellent dinner or a fine cup of coffee. You can come here to gaze across the water and dream of times gone by or to discuss groundbreaking new plans. The Zalmhuis is a historic location where people of all ages and from all walks of life meet to enjoy the dynamic views and everything else the Zalmhuis had to offer.