Gouda, South Holland

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City and Municipality
Market square with gothic city hall
Market square with gothic city hall
Flag of Gouda
Coat of arms of Gouda
Coat of arms
Highlighted position of Gouda in a municipal map of South Holland
Location in South Holland
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Country Netherlands
Province South Holland
 • Body Municipal council
 • Mayor Milo Schoenmaker (VVD)
 • Total 18.11 km2 (6.99 sq mi)
 • Land 16.86 km2 (6.51 sq mi)
 • Water 1.25 km2 (0.48 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 0 m (0 ft)
Population (May 2014)[4]
 • Total 70,939
 • Density 4,208/km2 (10,900/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Gouwenaar
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postcode 2800–2809
Area code 0182
Website www.gouda.nl
Dutch Topographic map of Gouda (city), Sept. 2014
Town center from the sky with townhall and church (de Grote of Sint Janskerk)

Gouda (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣʌu̯daː]) is a municipality and city with population of 70,939 in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands.

Gouda, which was granted city rights in 1272, is famous for its Gouda cheese, smoking pipes, and 15th-century city hall.

In the Middle Ages, a settlement was founded at the location of the current city by the Van der Goude family, who built a fortified castle alongside the banks of the Gouwe River, from which the family and the city 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.


Gouda's 15th century Town Hall
City centre of Gouda in 1650, by Joan Blaeu

Around the year 1100, 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 Utrecht.

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 France with Holland and the Baltic Sea. 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 the 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.[5]

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.[6] Gouda was one of the poorest cities in the country during that period: the terms "Goudaner" and "beggar" were considered synonymous.[7]

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 did Gouda start 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-Utrecht 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, back-filling 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 back-filling 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.

After the war, the city started to expand and nearly tripled in size. New neighbourhoods, such as Gouda-Oost, Bloemendaal and Goverwelle were built. Over the last years there has been a shift from expanding the city towards urban renewal and gentrification.


Gouda's Cheese Market
Gracht in Gouda.
The Waag (weigh house).

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

The world famous Gouda cheese is not made in the city itself but in the surrounding region. It derives its name from being traded in Gouda where the city council imposes stringent quality controls.

The economy of the city centre is based on tourism, leisure and retail, while offices are located at the outskirts of the city. Currently, there are over 32,000 jobs in the city, mainly in commercial and healthcare services.


  • Old City Hall at the Markt square - 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 (especially cheese) to levy taxes. It now is a national monument. It currently hosts a small cheese museum;
  • Grote or St. Jans Kerk (Great or Saint John Church) - longest church in the Netherlands, famous for its stained glass windows which were made between 1530 and 1603, considered the most significant stained glass collection in the Netherlands.[8] Even in the 17th century, it already was a tourist attraction;
  • Museum Gouda - museum about the history and arts of the city;
  • Verzetsmuseum - museum about the Dutch resistance during World War II;
  • Museumhaven Gouda - small harbour with historic ships;
  • Goudse Schouwburg - large theatre;
  • Waaiersluis (Waaier Locks) - a historic lock on the Hollandse IJssel just east of Gouda.


  • Gouda Cheese & Craft Market, every Thursday from 10:00 - 13:00h (April–August)
  • Gouda Ceramics Days, yearly two-day event of ceramists from the Netherlands and several other countries. Several exhibitions. May 29 10:00 - 17:00h and May 30 10:00 - 16:00h around the Old City Hall.
  • Gouda's Monmartre, antique/curio/flea/collector's market, weekly on Wednesdays around the Old City Hall during summer from June 4 - Sept. 10, 2014.
  • Gouda Water City Festival weekend of June 21, 2014
  • Gouda by Candlelight - an annual Christmas event held in mid December, featuring attractions in the city centre. In the evening, a Christmas tree, an annual gift from the sister city of Kongsberg, is lit in the market place. Carols are sung by famous Dutch singers accompanied by choirs. The windows of the Old City Hall and the surrounding houses are lit by Gouda candles.


Gouda is served by two railway stations: Gouda, and Gouda Goverwelle. The main railway station is served by Intercity services to The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht and local trains to Amsterdam and Alphen aan den Rijn/Leiden.

The city also lies alongside the A12 and A20 motorways.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Gouda is twinned with:

Natives of Gouda


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  5. Abels, pp. 302-303
  6. Abels, pp. 364-365
  7. Schouten, Jan (1977) Gouda door de eeuwen (Gouda through the ages) Repro-Holland, Alphen aan de Rijn, NL, pg. 156 OCLC 63324059 in Dutch
  8. Harten-Boers, Henny van: The stained-glass windows in the Sint Janskerk at Gouda I Archived June 29, 2011 at the Wayback Machine


  • 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

External links