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Gouda's 15th Century Town Hall
Gouda's Cheese Market
Gouda ( ; population 71,797 in 2004) is a city and municipality in the western Netherlandsmarker, in the province of South Hollandmarker. Gouda, which was granted city rights in 1272, is famous for its Gouda cheese, smoking pipe, and its 15th century city hall.

The town takes its name from the Van der Goude family, who built a fortified castle alongside the banks of the Gouwe River, from which the family took its name. The area, originally marshland, developed over the course of two centuries. By 1225, a canal was linked to the Gouwe and its estuary was transformed into a harbour. Gouda's array of historic churches and other buildings makes it a very popular day trip destination.


Around the year 1000, the area where Gouda now is located was swampy and covered with a peat forest, crossed by small creeks such as the Gouwe. Along the shores of this stream near the current market and city hall, peat harvesting began in the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1139, the name Gouda is first mentioned in a statement from the Bishop of Utrechtmarker.

In the 13th century, the Gouwe was connected to the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) by means of a canal and its mouth at the Hollandse IJssel was developed into a harbour. Castle Gouda was built to protect this harbour. This shipping route was used for trade between Flanders and Francemarker with Hollandmarker and the Baltic Seamarker. In 1272, Floris V, Count of Holland, granted city rights to Gouda, which by then had become an important location. City-canals or grachten were dug and served as transport ways through the town.

Great fires in 1361 and 1438 destroyed the city. In 1572, the city was occupied by Les Gueux (Dutch rebels against the Spanish King) who also committed arson and destruction. In 1577 demolition of Castle Gouda began.

In 1574, 1625, 1636, and 1673, Gouda suffered from deadly Plague epidemics, of which the last one was the most severe: 2995 persons died, constituting 20% of its population .

In the last quarter of the 16th century, Gouda had serious economic problems. It recovered in the first half of the 17th century and even prospered between 1665 and 1672. But its economy collapsed again when war broke out in 1672 and the plague decimated the city in 1673, even affecting the pipe industry. After 1700, Gouda enjoyed a period of progress and prosperity until 1730. Then another recession followed, resulting in a long period of decline that lasted well into the 19th century . Gouda was one of the poorest cities in the country during that period: the terms "Goudaner" and "beggar" were considered synonymous.

Starting in 1830, demolition of the city walls began. The last city gate was torn down in 1854. Only from the second half of the 19th century onward, Gouda started to profit from an improved economic condition. New companies, such as Stearine Kaarsenfabriek (Stearine Candle Factory) and Machinale Garenspinnerij (Mechanized Yarn Spinnery), acted as the impetus to its economy. In 1855, the railway Gouda-Utrechtmarker began to operate. In the beginning of the 20th century, large scale development began, extending the city beyond its moats. First the new neighbourhoods Korte Akkeren, Kort Haarlem and Kadebuurt were built, followed by Oosterwei, Bloemendaal, and Goverwelle after World War II.

From 1940 on, backfilling of the city moats and city-canals, the grachten, began: the Nieuwe Haven, Raam, Naaierstraat, and Achter de Vismarkt. But because of protests from city dwellers and revised policies of city planners, Gouda did not continue backfilling moats and city-canals, now considered historically valuable. In 1944, the railway station was damaged during an Allied bombardment, killing 8 and wounding 10 persons. This bombardment was intended to destroy the railroad connecting The Hague and Rotterdam to Utrecht. Since 1977, the weekly pig market, the largest in the Netherlands, is no longer held in the city.


Gouda is world famous for its Gouda cheese, which still is traded on its cheese market held each Thursday. It is further well-known for the fabrication of candles, smoking pipes, and syrup waffles. Gouda used to have a considerable linen industry and a number of beer breweries.

Gouda cheese is not really made in the city itself but in the surrounding region. Yet it gets its name from being traded in Gouda where the city council imposed stringent quality controls.


The Waag (Scale Building).
  • Old City Hall at the market - built between 1448 and 1450, one of the oldest Gothic city halls in the Netherlands.
  • The Waag (weigh house) - built in 1667 across from the Old City Hall, this building was used for weighing goods to levy taxes. It now is a national monument.
  • Grote of St. Jans Kerkmarker (Great or Saint John Church) - largest cross-shaped church in the Netherlands, famed for its stained glass which was made between 1530 and 1603, considered the most significant stained glass collection in the Netherlands . Even in the 17th century, it was already a tourist attraction.
  • Waaiersluis (Waaier Locks) - a historic lock on the Hollandse IJssel just east of Gouda.
  • Museumhaven Gouda (Harbour Museum Gouda)
  • Other museums: Museum Gouda (history museum), Museum De Verborgen Tijd (modern art), Museum De Moriaan (national pharmaceutical museum), and Verzets Museum (about the Dutch resistance during World War II).


Gouda is served by two railway stations: Goudamarker, Gouda Goverwellemarker. The city also lies alongside the A12 motorway.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Gouda is twinned with:

Natives of Gouda


  1. Abels, pp. 302-303
  2. Abels, pp. 364-365
  3. Schouten, Jan (1977) Gouda door de eeuwen (Gouda through the ages) Repro-Holland, Alphen aan de Rijn, NL, pg. 156 OCLC 63324059 in Dutch
  4. Harten-Boers, Henny van: The stained-glass windows in the Sint Janskerk at Gouda I


  • Abels, P.H.A.M. (2002) Duizend jaar Gouda: een stadsgeschiedenis (Thousand year Gouda: A history of the city) Verloren, Hilversum, ISBN 90-6550-717-5, in Dutch
  • Denslagen, W.F. and Akkerman, Chris (2001) Gouda Rijksdienst voor de Monumentenzorg, Zeist, NL, ISBN 90-400-9515-9, in Dutch
  • Schouten, Jan and de Wit, Bob (1960) Gouda (translated from the Dutch by Flora van Os-Gammon) W. van Hoeve, The Hague OCLC 1492541, in English

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