Gouda is Famous the World Over for its Gouda Cheese:
The name Gouda conjures images of bright yellow wheels of this Dutch cheese that is a common sight throughout the Netherlands. But more than just cheese, this typical Dutch city in the province of South Holland has plenty of history, old buildings and pretty canals that visitors will find a delight to explore.
A Slice of Gouda History
Gouda’s history can be traced back to the 11th century when the Van der Goude family built a castle on the Gouwe River. The area was originally marshland and a source for peat harvesting over the next two centuries. Gouda gained prominence as a city in 1272 when a canal was built connecting the Gouwe River with the Rhine delta. This allowed the shipment of goods to France and elsewhere.
Gouda had a successful brewing industry in the 15th century and the growth of the cheese industry in the 17th century brought more prosperity to the city. When a tax on cheese was introduced in 1667, it raised a lot of money for the town. The Waag (cheese weigh house) was built in 1668 so that the cheese could be weighed and tax collected.
Gouda City Centre
All the main sites of Gouda are within the city centre which is encircled by a canal. The area is small and easily explored on foot. Kleiweg, the main shopping street, is pedestrianized and bike free. At the end of this street you’ll reach the Markt (market square). The Stadhuis (the oldest Gothic Town Hall in the Netherlands) and Waag (now a cheese museum) are located here and the Markt is also where the kaasmarkt (cheese market) takes place during the summer months. Plan on being here on Thursday mornings when the cheese market is in operation.
Other Gouda Attractions
- St. Janskerk (St. John’s Church) – Famous for its beautiful stained glass windows, St. Janskerk is also the largest cross shaped church in the Netherlands.
- Windmills – There are three windmills remaining in Gouda, two of these are in city centre.
- Museumgouda (Gouda Museum) – Through its displays of archaeology, old clay pipes, pottery and paintings, visitors can learn more about the history of Gouda here. Information and guided tours are available in English.
- Museumhaven Gouda (Gouda Harbour Museum) – Gouda’s harbour and shipbuilding history are recorded in this museum. There are also some old ships and buildings to see. Unfortunately all the information is in Dutch.
- Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland (The Resistance Museum) – For those interested in the history of the Dutch resistance during World War II, information and guided tours are available in English at this museum.
Things to Buy in Gouda
Gouda cheese is a must-try from the town after which the cheese was named. Another Dutch treat to buy here is the traditional and delicious Dutch stroopwafels. These were first made in Gouda in 1784. If you haven’t tried these Dutch wafers before, the Goudse stroopwafels go very nicely with coffee.
Gouda is also famous for its smoking pipes and Goudse kaarsen, the traditional Dutch candles.
There are not many hotels in Gouda as most visitors make day trips here. Hotel De Keizerskroon is in the city centre and there are several other hotels that are about 4 to 7 kms away. See here for complete list of Gouda hotels.
By Train – Gouda’s main station is 5 minutes walk to the Markt (market square).
From Den Haag or Rotterdam – Gouda is on the train route between Den Haag or Rotterdam and Utrecht. The train journey takes about 20 minutes.
From Amsterdam – There is only one slow direct train each hour from Amsterdam to Gouda.
For schedules and fares, see the Dutch railway website www.ns.nl/.
By Bus – There are buses from Benschop, Bodegraven, Leiden and several other cities to Gouda. See the Connexxion website.
Map of Gouda: