Gouda City Tour
Gouda is one of those wonderful Dutch cities with a history. It is located in the middle of the Dutch green heart, where the cows graze and the meadow birds breed. Not surprising that Gouda developed its own type of cheese.
The city has attractive canals and locks and a beautiful town hall and Saint John Church (Sint-Janskerk) with its famous glass windows. Every year there is a candle evening on the Gouda market. And finally Gouda is also the city of Erasmus, Coornhert, and Leo Vroman.
Dennis Callan tells in the video below what he found in this special Dutch city.
We're visiting the Dutch city of Gouda in this practical guide to seeing the highlights of Gouda, in Holland, in the Netherlands. Most famous for Gouda cheese, but there are many other attractions to enjoy in this beautiful Dutch city.
It has some fine examples of that special Dutch feature of the reflecting canals lined by flowers and pedestrian lanes. But here we've got several of these charming neighborhoods we'll show you in the video, and the important building where the cheese was weighed on the main town square.
The Weighing House, or Waag, has for centuries been a central point in town where the all-important cheese was weighed and deals were made. It now contains the Tourist Information Center and the Cheese and Crafts Museum where you can taste and purchase a variety of cheeses.
The Markt, or marketplace, is the central plaza in the heart of town, home to countless pubs, restaurants and cozy sidewalk cafes. The exquisitely proportioned Stadhuys, or City Hall, is a gem of late Gothic and early Renaissance architecture, dating from 1449-59. The traditional cheese market takes place in the plaza every Thursday mornings 10 AM till 1230 from April through the end of August.
Saint John Church
The street alongside the marketplace is one of the busiest in town with lots of shops, and especially the restaurants and bars and cafés – usually buzzing with people. One block away, Groote Kerk, or Great Church, also called Saint John Church, was founded in 1485 and rebuilt after a fire in 1562. The round-arched arcades are borne by 36 pillars supporting the lofty barrel-vaulted ceiling of dark wood. It is the longest church in the Netherlands, at 123 meters.
Our walking route, starting at the train station and down to that central market square, into the church, then we'll continue along a beautiful canal down to the harbor, and then circling back around in a complete round trip walking tour of the city, and ending up back at the train station. Now we continue along the Westhaven canal.
Clippers, barges and sailing vessels
You can easily walk along this splendid canal from the town center, only 600 meters distance - it'll take you about five minutes - down to the historic harbor where you will find clippers, barges and sailing vessels lying majestically alongside each other in the Museum Harbor, and most of these are still lived in. In the Middle Ages, due to its central location, the town offered passage to ships en-route to Amsterdam and Flanders. After the 15th century, Gouda's role in international shipping went into decline.
Walking back towards the center from the harbor, you'll see another historic site – it's a windmill, very characteristic of the Netherlands. We're taking a circular route through town, walking along yet another beautiful canal, observing all these bicycles going back and forth. You can actually rent a bicycle here if you'd like to peddle around in town or even extend out to some of the surrounding areas.
This route to the harbor, and then returning along a few of the less traveled back lanes, gets you off the beaten track. It's an easy stroll that doesn't take much time, and this route can bring you past another few blocks of shopping. Here you can see a benefit of being here when the cheese market is not on – you will not see very many other tourists. Then passing along a few residential blocks with their old-fashioned buildings.
It's nice to get away from the historic highlights for a while and into a neighborhood that's more for locals. It's quiet and peaceful over here. Then you will come around the bend and find what is perhaps the prettiest of the canal scenes in town along what's called the Turfmarkt. Turf was that peat, or combustible decaying soil that was very important to the old Dutch for cooking and heating their homes, much like in Ireland and elsewhere in the north of Europe.
This route takes us back to the center at the marketplace. There's a lovely block behind the market square. We can have a peek at it showing that very special Dutch combination of shop fronts along a pedestrian lane next to a charming little canal – circles on the map and next to it is the new market, a modern little shopping mall.
Close to nearby cities
Gouda is generally visited as a daytrip from other nearby cities, which are only 20 to 30 minutes away by train. Even all the way to Amsterdam is just 52 minutes. So you can easily visit Gouda for most of the day without spending the night there. Or if you wish to overnight, there are some fine hotels such as a four-star Best Western.
Dutch rail system
The superb Dutch rail system makes it very easy to travel around in this relatively small nation, as you will see in our many other movies about the Netherlands, where we take you to all of the highlights of this wonderful country. Look for them in our collection.