Gouda, Not Just a Cheese Town

Weighing in the Cheese at the Waag, Gouda, South Holland

Gouda, in the province of South Holland, is one of the prettiest and most charing towns we’ve seen yet.  As are most Dutch towns and cities, Gouda has a network of lovely canals throughout.  In Gouda’s case, the canals around the old town are shaped in a series of ringed horsecollars.

One of the smaller canals

Gouda is most famous for its cheese.  Both the town and the cheese are pronounced “khowduh” and not the “goo-duh” that Americans are prone to say.

Gouda still maintains a weekly cheese market where a great ceremony is made of inspecting and weighing the cheese.  We were informed by a very proper and polite woman at the local Waag, or weighing house, that this weekly show was “put on for the tourists.”  The cheese is almost all produced in industrialized creameries although there are a few cottage creameries still functioning.

In the picture below, if you look closely you can see some of the wooden litter-like trays the cheesemongers used to carry in their cheeses to be weighed at the Waag, including some of the original weights.

Nevertheless, the Saturday we visited, the locals’ market was in full swing with everything from a wide selection of cheeses to fruits & vegetables, meats, clothing, and housewares.  What is fascinating to me is that these weekly markets have been held in the same square, the Nieuwe Markt, for several hundred years — and this is the new market.  (The city was destroyed by fire in   1361 and again in 1438 so anything built after then is considered “new”.)

One of the dozens of stalls at the local Saturday market

Another major attraction in the town of Gouda are the stained glass windows of Sint Jan’s Kerk (St. John’s Church), also known as the Grote Kerk,  or “Great Church

Sint Jan’s is the largest cross-shaped church in the Netherlands, and it is, indeed, huge.  So huge, in fact, it was impossible to take a single picture of it.  And the stained glass windows, made between 1530 and 1603, are some of the loveliest and largest I’ve ever seen.  Here are two pictures which are impossible in which to see detail, but give just a slight taste of how vibrant some of the colors are.

And some more pictures from around Gouda:

Onef the old city gates

The Town Hall, dating from the 15th Century

Michael standing on the old lane called, "Behind the Fish Market"

Gouda has a less serious believe it or not.  Here is a roof decoration along one of the smaller canals:

As improbable as this sounds, an internet search clearly identified the creator of this statue as Gijs (pronounced “Guy”) Assmann, of all names, a contemporary Dutch artist.

I’ll leave you now with what I think is the quintessential image of a beautiful Dutch town.


One thought on “Gouda, Not Just a Cheese Town

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s