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Gouda More Than Just Cheese

Everyone has heard of Gouda cheese. Some of us have tried it and even regard it as one of our favourites, but few know where it comes from or just what appeal its city of origin holds in store. The fact is that the popular cheese comes from Gouda, a city in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands, situated at the confluence of the rivers Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel.

What To Do In Gouda

The city of Gouda has a very picturesque historic centre, where strolling about proves to be a rewarding experience and where the major landmarks are located. Needless to say, the first of these is related to cheese and is the most powerful magnet as far as tourists is concerned – the cheese market. It is held every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from April to August. Farmers and traders meet in the market to strike deals and many centennial traditions are preserved here, as in the fact that all goods are still transported in wooden carts and that all deals are sealed by a touch of the hands.

Also located in the square – the Markt – the site of this trade ritual, is the Stadhuis, a beautiful Flemish Gothic building which has the honour of being one of the oldest town halls in the Netherlands. Built from 1448 to 1450, it was modified to some extent in 1692 and 1880. Notable rooms in this edifice are the Trouwzaal (Wedding Hall), dating from 1800, and the Council Chamber.

Another site you can also visit in the Markt square is the Goudse Waag, a building dating from 1668which was once a covered market for buying and selling cheese. It subsequently became a national monument and is now a museum dedicated to cheese.

Apart from the city hall, another gem is Sint Janskerk, which also makes an outing to Gouda worthwhile. Visitors should not hesitate to enter this Church of St John the Baptist. It has a history of withstanding fire, as it was engulfed in flames on three occasions, two of which – in 1361 and 1438 – saw the whole city on the verge of being consumed. The nave measures 123 metres, making it the longest church in Holland. Its most stunning feature, however, are its sixty stained glass windows, placed between 1530 and 1603, twenty of which are the work of the brothers Dirk and Wouter Crabeth I. One of the unusual highlights of one’s visit here is that the preliminary drawings the stained glass windows were based on have been preserved, a rare occurrence.

Those interested in discovering the city’s history should head for the Museum Gouda, located in the buildings known as the Catharina Gathuis and De Moriaan.

To wrap up your tour of the city, we recommend you head for the south side of the old town where you will come across two old windmills – the Molen ‘t Slot, built in 1831, and De Roode Leeuw (The Red Lion), built in 1619 and restored in 1771.

Before you leave Gouda, don’t forget to taste their stroopwafel, a traditional confectionery which consists of two waffles with a filling of soft caramel. Munching on one of these is ideal for restoring one’s energy after a magnificent stroll through the city.

Now that you know the secret gems awaiting you in Gouda, book your Vueling and discover them for yourself.

 

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by bertknot, Sander van der Wel, Hans A Rosbach