A city of great minds and tolerance
Gouda, a city known for its great minds and tolerance, has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. Situated at the confluence of the Hollandsche IJssel and the Gouwe, Gouda thrived as a trading hub, leading to the rapid development of industries such as textiles, beer brewing, and cheese trading. The city’s historic center boasts several well-preserved buildings from this prosperous era, including the Sint-Janschurch, the longest church in the Netherlands, and the Old Town Hall, one of the oldest Gothic city halls in the country, completed in 1459.
In addition to its historical heritage, Gouda is famous for its syrup waffles, candle making, Gouda faience, pipes, and the annual Candle Evening. This event sees the lighting of candles on a massive Christmas tree in front of the City Hall, as well as in the surrounding houses, attracting numerous tourists to Gouda each year. However, it is Gouda cheese that truly takes center stage, renowned worldwide for its quality and flavor. Recently, syrup waffles have also been gaining popularity globally, capturing the hearts and taste buds of people around the world.
Gouda is associated with notable figures, such as Erasmus, who studied at the parish school, the precursor to the Latin school of Gouda and the Coornhert Gymnasium. Erasmus, a prominent humanist, advocated for freedom of religion, science, and ideas, as well as independent thinking. Another famous figure from Gouda is Dirck Volkertszoon Coornhert, after whom the Coornhert Gymnasium is named. He was also a renowned humanist and Renaissance thinker and is buried in the Sint-Janschurch. Additionally, Gouda was the birthplace of the de Houtman brothers, Cornelis and Frederik, who were the first Dutchmen to sail to the Indies.
Places to see
The old city hall of Gouda
When exploring Gouda, there are several must-see attractions. The old city hall is was the centerpiece of Gouda. The hall was built in 1448 using imported, Belgian limestone to replace the old city hall. It stands proudly in the middle of the market. In the year 1361 the city hall got burned down by a great fire. By building the new city hall in the center of the market they made sure it was safe from a fire hazerd coming from the surounding buildings.
Another remarkable site is the Sint-Janskerk, famous not only for its stunning collection of 72 stained glass windows but also for being the longest church in the Netherlands. These windows, considered works of art, are notable for their exceptional quality and beauty. Almost all of the so-called cartons, wich are the original drawings of the windows, have been preserved. The cartons were drawn with charcoal and chalk on a 1:1 scale. This means that de cartons can be up to 22 meters high!
De Waag (the weigh house), located across the market from the City Hall, is another noteworthy building. Originally serving as a weigh house, where goods were weighed and taxed. The building was built in 1668 and was designed by the artist Pieter Post, who also created the royal palace Huis ten Bosch and De Waag in Leiden. Today, De Waag functions as a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into Gouda’s trading history.
The Market itself, surrounding the City Hall, has been a vital trading center for centuries, particularly for livestock, dairy products, and meat.
Walking through the city
For those who prefer guided walks, the Xplore Gouda app is highly recommended. This app provides a variety of pre-made routes catering to different interests and lengths, allowing visitors to explore the city at their own pace. Moreover, the app offers detailed information about the various monuments and buildings encountered during the walk, enhancing the overall experience of discovering Gouda’s rich cultural heritage.