Did you know that the Dutch eat about 3 kilos of cheese a year per person? So it is not surprising that, in addition to its windmills, their colorful tulips and freedom that inspires Amsterdam, Netherlands is world famous for its cheese industry, divided by charming villages that have even given its name to internationally recognized kind of cheese. The best way to see and taste the cheese culture that permeates this small country, is to rent a car and go with the smell of this delicacy.
On the way to Edam, it is inevitably to make a short stop in ZaanseSchans, a small recreation of the pre-industrial past of the country and a delight to the children, where they can learn how the old and nostalgic windmills worked. Nearby Monnickedam, a small fishing village stands.
Before entering Edam, you should walk around the neighboring Volendam, a charming town full of typical Dutch houses and canals, where the most visited is its harbor with old boats and a waterfront village where, in addition to cheese, you can taste local fish such as smoked eel. And after 22 kilometers from Amsterdam, we arrive to Edam, famous worldwide for the popular round cheese covered with red wax that is manufactured and commercialized since several centuries in this beautiful city founded in the eleventh century. The traditional cheese market is one of the most visited and popular city event which offers an exhibition on the history of Edam, from which in 1649 came to export five hundred thousand units of the famous cheese.
Today it is manufactured in much of the Northern Province. In addition to cheese, Edam preserves channels, picturesque and historic streets, several wooden houses of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that have been declared national monuments and spectacular buildings such as the Grote Kerk church, the town hall (Raadhuis), or old church tower Speeltoren.
Halfway between Utrecht and Rotterdam, we run into the city that names the Dutch cheese par excellence, which represents 60% of Dutch cheese production. Gouda also hosts its own cheese market, which takes place every Thursday morning from April to August. In the market square find the building Waag, which in addition to being used to check the quality and weigh cheese, it hosts the Cheese Museum, where you can learn the process of making cheese. Gouda City Hall, built in Gothic style in the fifteenth century, dominates the market square and worth a visit to Sint Janskerk church, which at 123 meters is the highest in the Netherlands and retains stunning stained glass windows.
And we come to Alkmaar, situated in a typical Dutch landscape of polders, near a nature reserve which treasures dunes, beach, trees… and where this small town shows the tourist channels with their characteristic drawbridges, many historic buildings, calm patios, old facades and narrow streets, with a very special stop: the most famous cheese market in the country and is one of the essential tourist destinations in the Netherlands.
A little further north, we completed the route in the picturesque town of Hoorn, on the shores of the inland sea of the Netherlands: the IJsselmeer. A town that has preserved all the splendor of the Dutch traditional facades in many houses and some of the buildings in the historic center as they had once been in the Middle Ages, its merchant port was vital for the development of the country and today you can still see old sailing ships that have been restored and anchored there, next to the famous tower Hoofdtoren built since the seventeenth century.