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Discover Alkmaar, the Dutch city of cheese

Staff Writer |
Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit Alkmaar for its cheese market, a particular spectacle which includes a market filled with cheese and hauling cheese carriers.

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Only half an hour by train from Amsterdam you will find the world's most famous cheese market.

At the 'Waagplein' the beautiful sqaure in the old city centre of Alkmaar, the cheese is being traded according to the same old traditions as for more than 400 years.

This part of the Netherlands has a soggy soil unfit for growing farm crops but excellently suited for grass and grazing cows.

The city of Alkmaar is a miniature version of Amsterdam complete with canals, drawbridges and canal houses. But it is cheese that makes the city famous!

The tradition of selling local Gouda and Edam cheese is still practiced and the market is a living example of how merchants operated hundreds of years ago.

Due to its long history that dates back to 1593, it’s no wonder the market has become a prominent tradition in the area, and a noticeable part of the Dutch culture.

Usually, the Alkmaar cheese market season kicks off in the first Friday of April and lasts until the first Friday of September. The fares, spectacles, and demonstrations are taking place each Friday from 10 AM until 12.30 PM.

Combining charming medieval décors with wonderful displays of world-class Dutch cheese and vendors wearing traditional costumes, a trip here is like an authentic journey through the Dutch culture and traditions.

The cheeses come from all the different regions around Alkmaar, but only three types are traded here.

The yellow wheels are Edam, Gouda, and Leidse (Leiden). Leidse cheese is specifically referred to as Leiden’s cheese because it has a distinctly unique flavour created by Leiden cheesemakers.

The cheese is flavoured with higher concentrations of cumin and is a true speciality of the area.

In 1365 Alkmaar was granted weighing rights and a weighing scale, and in 1612 this number increased to four. Exactly when the first cheese market took place is shrouded in mystery.

Old documents have been found that confirm the cheese market definitely took place in 1622, but there is also evidence that the cheese bearer's guild was founded in 1593; we can therefore deduce that there must have been a cheese market at that time as well.

The cheese market is surrounded by a fun art and craft market. This is where you can find real Dutch ‘poffertjes’, herring, farm cheese, a clog maker, craft stalls and much more!

Up to 30,000 kilos, or 2200 whole cheeses, are lined up and waiting for you!

Watching the “kaasdragers” run around in their pure white attire with straw hats carrying 130 kilos of cheese on wooden barrows suspended from their backs is truly quite the sight.

Bargaining between the trader and buyer is also unique to Holland, in which they clap each other’s hand until the price has been deemed as “fair.”

The last clap stands as the final bid. Once the price and the weights are agreed upon, the Kaasdragers load up the cheese and carry it off to the wagon lorries for delivery.

The cheesemarket Alkmaar 2018 will take place from March 30th untill September 28th, every Friday from 10 am untill 13.00 pm on the Waagplein.

The evening cheese markets will be held at the following dates in 2018:

Tuesday 3 July 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 10 July 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 17 July 19.00-21.00 Tuesday July 24 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 31 July 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 7

August 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 14 August 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 21 August 19.00-21.00 Tuesday 28 August 19.00-21.00


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