You might expect Edam to be jammed with tourists, considering the international fame of the rubbery red balls of cheese that carry its name. In fact, Edam usually lacks crowds and remains a delightful, good-looking and prosperous little town of neat brick houses, high gables, swing bridges and slender canals. Founded by farmers in the twelfth century, it experienced a temporary boom in the seventeenth as a shipbuilding centre with river access to the Zuider Zee. Thereafter, it was back to the farm – the excellent pastureland surrounding the town is still grazed by large herds of cows, though nowadays most Edam cheese is produced elsewhere, even in Germany (“Edam” is the name of a type of cheese and not its place of origin). This does, of course, rather undermine the authenticity of Edam’s open-air cheese market, held every Wednesday morning in July and August, but it’s still a popular attraction and the only time the town heaves with tourists. From here, it’s a couple of hundred metres south to the fifteenth-century Speeltoren, an elegant, pinnacled tower that is all that remains of Edam’s second most important medieval church, and roughly the same distance again – south along Lingerzijde – to the impossibly picturesque Kwakelbrug bridge.
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