Best known for its bright orange rounds of cheese and the glorious stained-glass windows in its Gothic church, Gouda is only an hour away from Amsterdam in South Holland. It’s a typically Dutch town with an enormous central square called Markt, dominated by a turreted, gabled and pinnacled Stadhuis (town hall) dating back to 1449. Around Markt is the centuries-old cheese market that attracts thousands of tourists from June to September on Thursday mornings between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Just across Markt you’ll find the Waag, once used for weighing all the dairy produce at the market. Built in 1669, its purpose is proudly announced on the white marble panel on the front façade depicting merchants weighing cheese. Inside, there’s a miniscule interactive exhibition detailing the importance of Gouda as a center for dairy production.
St Janskerk Church is a step away from the main square, easily identified by its spire peeking above the roofs. This ornate 15th-century building houses some of Europe’s loveliest stained-glass windows, considered so beautiful that they were even spared destruction in the Protestant Alteration of 1578. They were donated to the church by a series of wealthy patrons and number 64 in total, depicting both biblical and contemporary scenes.
Adjacent to St Janskerk, the Museum Gouda is found in the Catharina Gasthuis, a former almshouse dating from 1665. It showcases a charming mix of Hague School landscape painting, silver guild relics, altarpieces that survived the Alteration and original sketches for the church’s stained-glass windows.
Gouda is located about 20 miles from The Hague. It can be reached via the Intercity Sprinter, which runs every 12 minutes daily from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. By car, it is about 30 minutes away via the A12.