Cheese Markets in Netherlands that You Have To Visit (A GUIDE)
The cheese and cheese markets of the Netherlands are well-known. Here you will find a guide to The Netherlands’ cheese markets as well as all the information you need to enjoy The Netherlands’ cheese markets.
While the Netherlands is well-known for its cheese, most cheese markets are no longer what they once were. Nonetheless, some cheese markets in the Netherlands remain undiscovered by tourists. Isn’t that something we all desire? Then I present to you The Netherlands’ cheese markets that you must visit. They are also all ideal day trips from Amsterdam.
The cheese in the markets is sold in a unique manner. You might be wondering how they sell the cheese. They perform a technique known as ‘handjeklap’. This means they clap their hands onto each other’s hands as quickly as they can to determine the price of the cheese. It moves so quickly and without words that you have no idea what is going on. It is, however, a unique sight to behold.
There are now only five cheese markets left. Four of those cheese markets are sort of a play where people can see what life used to be like. People dress in the same clothes they did in the past, and every movement is performed in the same manner. Gouda, Alkmaar, Edam, and Hoorn are the cheese markets. The final three are in the province of Noord- Holland (North- Holland), with Gouda in the province of Zuid- Holland (South- Holland).
Woerden’s last remaining market is the real deal. So, by using the so-called ‘handjeklap,’ the cheese is actually sold. Cheese farmers and wholesalers are doing exceptionally well. Woerden is home to this cheese market.
1. Alkmaar – Cheese Markets in Netherlands
As previously stated, Alkmaar has one of four cheese markets that are reconstructions of how the cheese market used to be. The cheese market transforms a square in the heart of Alkmaar into a hive of activity. Thousands of original Gouda cheese are waiting to be sold on the ground. This cheese market is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, and it takes place every Friday morning from April to September. There is information available in the following languages: Dutch, German, English, French, and Spanish. Around the reconstructed cheese market, there are stalls selling everything traditional to my and our Dutch culture, including clogs and cheese (the last one was perhaps a little obvious…). One of the largest cheese markets in the Netherlands is located in Alkmaar.
The Alkmaar Cheese Market’s History
In the year 1365, Alkmaar only has one cheese scale (where the cheese is weighed), but by 1612, there are four. This demonstrates the market’s explosive growth. The ‘kaasdragersgilde’ was established on June 17, 1593. During the medieval period, a ‘gilde’ was very common in the Netherlands. There was a gilde for every profession, which functioned similarly to a trade union. Of course, the ‘kaasdragers’ (cheese-porters) required a gilde as well.
The market was always held in the same location as it is today, het Waagplein (the square in front of de Waag; the weighing house). The square grew in size over the course of two centuries. Not once, but eight times until it reached the current square. From May to All Saints Day in the 17th century, Alkmaar had cheese markets every Friday and Saturday. Two days a week became four days a week in the 18th century.
Alkmaar Cheese Market in the Netherlands
The Dutch cheese farmers used to bring their cheeses to the town market square to sell them at the best price. There are four so-called’vemen,’ which are official ‘kaasdragersgilde’ teams. The color of the ribbon around their straw hats distinguishes the various teams. These cheese porters transport the Gouda cheeses onto and off the square (in the beginning, they primarily sold Edammer cheese).
Following that, cheese samples are tasted, tested, purchased, and weighed in and around de Waag. Alkmaar’s judges and traders examine the cheese, knock on it, and cut it in half. Following that, they will take a piece of cheese from the cheese and smell it as well as test its elasticity. The judges and traders will crumble cheese pieces to determine the fat and moisture content.
They will then examine the ‘ogen’ (eyes), which are the holes in the cheese. When the holes in the cheese are evenly distributed, the quality is higher than when there is no ‘ogen’. Typically, the two cheese-porters carry eight cheeses (one cheese weighs approximately 13,5 kg) on a ‘berrie’ (barrows weighing 25 kg each), for a total weight of approximately 130 kg (free workout with the aftermath of a lot of cheese, where can I sign?). This is why the cheese-porters walk in an unusual manner. The ‘berrie’ moves less as a result of this walk, making it easier for them to walk around with 130 kg.
The use of ‘handslag’ or ‘handjeklap’ will determine the price of the cheese. This means that the farmers and buyer will clap as quickly as they can while shouting a price. It is something that the general public cannot understand on their own, so there is a narrator. Don’t be concerned if you don’t understand the prices. The final price is determined by the last clap. Once they’ve agreed on a price, the porters transport the cheeses to their company’s weighing house, Waag, and scale.
Alkmaar cheese market opening and preparation
The cheese market opens at 10:00 a.m. for visitors, but it begins at a different time for those who organize the market. Trucks carrying cheese from the Campina and Cono factories drive as close to the Waagplein as possible. At 7:00 a.m., they begin placing approximately 30.000 kg of Gouda cheese in long lines on the Waagplein. There are approximately 2400 pieces of cheese. The deadline for placing the cheeses is 9:30 a.m.
The ‘kaasvader’ (cheese father, yes, it’s true. We take this shit seriously.) speaks at 9:45 in front of the cheese- porters as the leader of the four’vemen’ or teams. He will tell them how many kilograms of cheese are on the market in front of them. But also whether there will be any notable guests, journalists, or television stations. The ‘kaasvader’ also checks to see if the Gilde is complete and places the vemen in their exact market working location.
By 13:00, the market’s official closing time, the cheeses must be off the Waagplein and into the transporter’s truck.
Important information about the cheese market in Alkmaar
In 2022, the cheese market in Alkmaar will be held every Friday morning from 10:00 to 13:00 between April and September. It can be found on Het Waagplein.
Remember that every Tuesday evening in July and August, between 19:00 and 21:00, there will be an evening cheese market in Alkmaar, The Netherlands.
Several markets and fairs are held during the Alkmaar cheese markets. These markets have stalls selling traditional Dutch crafts, Dutch food, and other items. It is definitely worthwhile to stay in Alkmaar for more than just the cheese market.
How do I get from Amsterdam to the Alkmaar Cheese Market?
It is simple to travel from Amsterdam to Alkmaar and the cheese market. From Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Sloterdijk, take a train to Den Helder, Alkmaar, or Schagen. Exit the train at Alkmaar station. Do not exit at Alkmaar Noord; this is a late train station. You can walk to the Alkmaar cheese market in ten minutes from the train station. This should take about 45 minutes. If this doesn’t make the Alkmaar cheese market an ideal day trip from Amsterdam, I’m not sure what will.
There are many other things to do in Alkmaar besides visiting the cheese market. Alkmaar is a city where you can easily spend a day or a weekend because it has many museums, day trips from Alkmaar, and great restaurants. An itinerary for spending one day in Alkmaar with plenty to do and see can be found here.
I recommend visiting the Schoorl dunes nature reserve for a beautiful day trip from Alkmaar. Click here for more information about Schoorl and the nature reserve, including great restaurants, Schoorl activities, and lodging options.
2. Edam – Cheese Markets in Netherlands
The cheese market of Edam is another well-known cheese market in the Netherlands. It couldn’t be otherwise, as Edammer cheese, named after the city, is one of the most popular.
The Edam cheese market’s history
Emperor Karel V granted Edam the right to have a Kaaswaag (weighing house) in 1526. In 1573, the city obtained perpetual rights to the Kaaswaag from Prince Willem van Oranje. The reason for this is that the Edammers got along well during the so-called ‘beleg’ of Alkmaar. Alkmaar’s ‘beleg’ was during the eight-year war against the Spanish. Alkmaar was freed thanks to the efforts of many people, including the Edammers. ‘I love it when a plan comes together,’ Willem must have thought. Although the A-team did not exist at the time, I’m sure he would have supported them. Anyway, let’s get back to the cheeses.
The cheeses were transported by boat and wagon to the Edam cheese market. The Netherlands was already well known for its cheese and butter in the 17th century, particularly in Germany, England, and France. The small, round Edammer cheese was easy to transport using ships.
Surprisingly, the cheeses were used not only as food, but also as an ideal trading product for spices and other items. The location of the cheese market changed in 1680. The Alkmaar cheese market was relocated to the Jan van Nieuwenhuizenplein. But only after they had removed the canal and water and decided it was time to add an extra square.
The current Waag was built in 1778, and the real cheese market existed until 1922.
To give you an idea of how popular Edammer cheeses are, in 1649, 250.000 cheeses were traded in Edam. The Netherlands now produces 27 million Edammer cheeses.
Edam Cheese Market in the Netherlands
Despite the fact that this cheese market is a reconstruction of a market that closed in 1922, it is important to keep the tradition alive. A bell signals the opening and closing of the cheese market. The farmers will transport the Noord Wester Edammer to the market by boat or horse and carriage. When they arrive at the market, the ‘kaaszetter’ (the man who places the cheeses in the proper place) places the cheeses in the proper place. The trader then uses a special cheese ‘drill’ to extract a piece of cheese while judging it.
It’s then ‘handjeklap’ time. Every cheese market in the Netherlands uses ‘Handjeklap’ to set the price per kg of cheese between the trader and the farmer. If the trader likes the price and taste of the cheese, the cheese-porters transport it to the weighing building using a ‘berrie’ (a 25 kg barrow) (waag). The total kilos of cheese will be weighed in the Waag. Following that, the cheeses will be loaded onto a mode of transportation, such as horse and carriages. It will also be transported to the ‘kaaspakhuis’ (cheese depot). The cheeses will ripen further in this location.
There is a narrator at the cheese market who will tell you exactly what is going on and why in three different languages (Dutch, English, and German).
In a beautifully restored little church, you can also watch a video about the entire cheese-making process. Aside from that, you can win prizes by guessing the weight of a portion of cheese at the market. Which is something I, as a Dutch person, would do. What are you waiting for, free prizes? The entire market, including game participation, is free to visit. Remember to get an Edammer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With a taste like that, it won’t last long.
The Edam cheese market’s opening and preparation
A bell is used to signal the opening and closing of the cheese market. An important guest from the Netherlands or elsewhere has the honor of making it a smash hit.
With the help of sponsor Beemsterkaas, more than 90 volunteers assist with the cheese market in Edam every week. There is an old Dutch street organ and a band dressed in traditional Edam clothing.
Important market information for Edam cheese
Every Wednesday morning during the summer months of July and August, Edam hosts a cheese market. It begins at 10:30 and concludes at 12:30. There are only eight markets each year, so plan ahead of time. It is situated on Jan van
How do I get from Amsterdam to the Edam Cheese Market?
Because the Edam cheese market is a great day trip from Amsterdam, getting from Amsterdam to Edam and its cheese market is simple. From Amsterdam Centraal, take bus 314 in the direction of Edam-Hoorn. Exit at Edam Busstation. It’s a 6-minute walk from here to Edam’s cheese market. This will take you about 37 minutes in total.
3. Hoorn – Cheese Markets in Netherlands
The Hoorn cheese market’s history
Hoorn was granted borough rights in 1357. The cheese was already a significant source of revenue for the city. Hoorn rose to prominence as a leading city in our so-called VOC around the year 1600. Verenigde Oostindische Companie: Founded around the time that half of the world began colonizing countries, this company specialized in spices and herbs from what is now known as Indonesia. De Roode Steen, a square in the heart of Hoorn, became the city’s main trading hub.
Farmers in the area sold their agricultural products at markets while traders went about their business. The famous architect Hendrick de Keyser built the Waag (cheese weighing building) at the time. The Waag scale is still used during the Hoorn cheese markets. Hoorn’s cheese market was the largest in the province of Noord-Holland in the nineteenth century. It ceased to exist as a result of World War II.
Hoorn, Netherlands, cheese market
Hoorn’s cheese market reopened in June 2017 as the city celebrated its 650th anniversary. Horses and carriages transport the cheeses from and to the Roode Steen square.
The cheese market is making a comeback thanks to Beemsterkaas, who sponsors the cheeses on display, and many volunteers. Even though the market is a show at this time of day, it demonstrates the Dutch people’s important and interesting heritage.
The Roode Steen is one of the most beautiful squares in the Netherlands, surrounded by 17th-century houses. Most importantly, they are employed in the play. The cheese porters transport the cheeses on the berries up the square and towards the weighing house.
The volunteers take on the roles of market head, cheese-porters, cheese-placers, traders, farmers, cheese-girls (the women who walk around with cheese in their hands and hand it out to hungry people), and wagon masters (the men who come with their horses and carriages).
Aside from the cheese market, there are people dressed in traditional Westfriese clothing and performing traditional dances in the area of North Holland known as West Friesland. All of this is set to traditional Westfriese music.
Hoorn cheese market’s opening and preparation
Volunteers are constructing the market between 13:00 and 13:45. The cheese porters are then welcomed and shown to the audience between 13:45 and 14:00. At 14:00, the Hoorn cheese market officially opens while being opened by a guest. I have a suggestion for the next visitor: me. Extra points if I can eat cheese for free. The cheese market closes at 14:10, and the first Westfriese dancing group performs until 14:30. The cheese market then resumes at 14:30, followed by another dancer performance. The big finale will take place between 15:30 and 15:45. The market closes at 15:45 p.m.
Important information about the Hoorn cheese market
It is unclear whether there will be a cheese market in Hoorn this year. The reason is the loss of sponsors as a result of the pandemic’s long duration. Let us cross our fingers, shall we?
Every Tuesday from mid-June to the end of August, the cheese market in Hoorn takes place. Aside from the cheese market, there are traditional Westfriese dancing groups dressed in traditional attire. The narrators tell their stories in Dutch, German, and English. It takes place on the city’s most important square, de Roode Steen, also known as Kaasmarkt.
How do I get from Amsterdam to Hoorn Cheese Market?
Because the Hoorn cheese market is a great day trip from Amsterdam, getting from Amsterdam to Hoorn and its cheese market is simple. Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Sloterdijk and then to Enkhuizen. Get out of here, Hoorn. It’s a 10-minute walk from here to Hoorn’s cheese market. This will take you about 40 minutes in total.
Hoorn is a city with a lot to do, so if you’re planning on spending a full day or weekend in Hoorn, here’s an itinerary of things to do in Hoorn.
4. Gouda – Cheese Markets in Netherlands
The Gouda cheese market’s history
The first cheese market in Gouda was held in 1395, and it was the birthplace of the famous Gouda cheese. Farmers from the surrounding area used horses and carriages to transport their cheeses to the market in front of the Waag (weighing house). The Goudse Waag is one of the three most historically significant buildings in Gouda. For centuries, it was an important part of the trade. Only since 1920 has Gouda cheese been weighed at the Waag.
More than 4,5 million kilos of cheese were sold in 1937, with at least 15,245 carriages being used. Each Gouda cheese weighs at least 15 kg. The official Gouda cheese market ended in the second half of the twentieth century due to the rise of factories. It is unclear when this will occur. Some say the Gouda cheese market closed in the 1950s, while others say it closed in the 1970s.
Gouda Cheese Market in the Netherlands
The cheeses will be delivered by farmers using horses and carriages. The cheeses will enter and exit the market with the assistance of brikken. These ‘brikken’ are special carriages designed to transport cheese as efficiently as possible. Farmers will negotiate the price of the cheese per kilos with traders in front of the Waag. Of course, this is accomplished with the assistance of our famous ‘handjeklap’ (if you don’t know what that means by now, you’ve been caught). Reread the article.). The cheeses are weighed in the Waag, a massive structure.
During the cheese market, there are many stalls displaying the unique crafts of this region of the Netherlands. People will demonstrate how they used to make clogs, buttermilk, candles, and other items.
The Waag is now not only used during cheese markets, but it has also been converted into a cheese and craft museum. A craft lesson can teach you everything from how to make Gouda cheese to how to make your own candles.
The establishment and preparation of the Gouda cheese market
The first volunteers are already on the market early in the morning (around 6 a.m.). They ensure that the pallets and cheeses are placed correctly and in the correct location. This takes some time to complete. Following that, everyone dresses up because moving cheeses and pallets in traditional uniforms isn’t practical.
At 9:00 a.m., there are five lines of nine pallets in front of the Waag. A few cheeses have already been placed, but the rest will be delivered from the Turfmarkt. They are sometimes brought by local schoolchildren dressed in traditional attire.
The cheese market begins at 10:00 a.m. in the morning by moving the town hall bell. You’ll see the traditional ‘handjeklap,’ as well as cheese trading between farmer and trader. The market closes at 13:00 p.m.
Important information about the market for Gouda cheese
From mid-April to mid-September, the cheese market in Gouda is held every Thursday morning between 10:00 and 13:00. Remember that they will not take place on national holidays.
How do I get from Amsterdam to the Gouda Cheese Market?
Because the Gouda cheese market is a great day trip from Amsterdam, getting from Amsterdam to Gouda and its cheese market is simple. Take the sprinter train from Amsterdam Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal. Exit at the Gouda train station. It’s a short walk from here to the Gouda cheese market. This will take you about 55 minutes in total.
5. Woerden – Cheese Markets in Netherlands
The Woerden Cheese Market’s History
Woerden established its cheese market in 1885. They also used the famous ‘handjeklap’ to discuss and agree on cheese prices per kilogram. As the cheese-making factories arrived after 1900, there were fewer farmers than before. The cheese market in Woerden was originally held on the Kerkplein. Woerden’s cheese market relocated to the Nieuwe Markt after 1923. Woerden received a cheese bell in 1925 to commemorate the cheese market’s 50th anniversary. You can write the amount of cheese, the market prices, and the prices and amount of cheese at nearby markets on the so-called cheese bell. The majority of the cheese produced in the Woerden area was sold either here or in Bodegraven.
Despite the fact that the cheese market in Woerden is not the largest, it is the only genuine cheese market in the Netherlands. They sell cheese from various farmers throughout the region, which is not only a sight to behold but also a taste to behold. The cheese is still transported and stored in warehouses located in and around Woerden.
Woerden’s Cheese Market
Cheese farmers from all over the region line up their wares for sale. Either on a tractor-drawn carriage or a hand-barrow. The market’s head rings the bell to signal the start of the market. The merchants are dressed in long white coats and fancy hats. You appear to have just entered a laboratory. They are inspecting the cheeses and are aware of every single detail. As soon as the trader determines the quality of the cheese (by knocking on it), he begins discussing prices with the farmer by, you guessed it, pushing their clogs together. What are you waiting for? I’m kidding. Of course, ‘handjeklap’ is also used here. The farmer is dressed in a blue overall with a red handkerchief and a hat. In general, the price per kilo is around five euros. When all of the cheese has been sold and weighed, the bell is rung once more to indicate the end of the market.
Every year in August, there is also a traditional, authentic cheese market. The farmers will arrive at the cheese market in their most historic mode of transportation. Throughout the day, competitions for the most beautiful product in each category are held. During the ‘Vermaak me smaak’ event, the audience will also have the opportunity to try it out. The top five original tests will be tasted by the audience, who will then select a winner. You will also see the ‘handjeklap’ tradition, in which farmers and traders will almost fight each other’s heads off (not literally) for the best prices. Everyone will dress in traditional attire.
Another event will take place on the first Saturday of June. The world’s first grass cheese will be unveiled. No, not from grass, but from the milk of grass-eating cows. Because cows cannot be outside all year due to the weather, April is the month when they can. For several months, the cheese must ripen further (depending on how old you want your cheese to be). When the first cheese is sold, a 125 kg grass cheese will be auctioned off for charitable purposes.
The opening and preparation of Woerden’s cheese market
The regular cheese markets begin at 10:30 a.m. The mayor of Woerden, along with the so-called youth queen and ladies-in-waiting, are driven into the city. The test prizes are given out near the cheese bell.
The cheese market slowly opens at 10:30, and at 11:00, everyone is allowed to begin with ‘handjeklap,’ which ends at 13:00. Visitors to the Kerkplein (church square) can make cheese and sample the region’s famous boerenkaas (farmer cheese).
There is a narrator who tells the audience what is going on in the cheese market.
Important information about the Woerden cheese market
From the beginning of June to the end of August, the cheese markets in Woerden are held every Saturday morning. It begins at 11:00 and ends around 13:00 at Kerkplein (church square).
Saturday, June 4th, is a special day for grass cheese. On Saturday, August 20th, there will be a historic cheese market.
How do I get from Amsterdam to Woerden Cheese Market?
Because the Woerden cheese market is a great day trip from Amsterdam, getting from Amsterdam to Woerden and its cheese market is simple. Take the sprinter train from Amsterdam Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal. Get away from Woerden. It’s a short walk from here to Woerden’s cheese market. This will take you about 45 minutes in total.
Topic: Cheese Markets in Netherlands that You Have To Visit (A GUIDE)
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