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.
More about Netherlands
Find out more
The Cheese Market
The Cheese Market
Stroll back from the church along Matthijs Tinxgracht, just to the west of Grote Kerkstraat, and you soon reach Jan Niuewenhuizenplein, site of the summer cheese market. It’s overlooked by the Kaaswaag, where they used to weigh the cheese, whose decorative panels feature the town’s coat of arms, a bull on a red field with three stars. It’s a good deal humbler than Alkmaar’s market, but follows the same format, with the cheeses laid out in rows before buyers sample them. Once a cheese has been purchased, the cheese porters, dressed in traditional white costumes and straw boaters, spring into action, carrying them off on their gondola-like trays.