Gouda is a city and municipality in the east of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands with 73,540 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) on a territory of 16.92 km².

The city is located in Central Holland and in the urban area of ​​the Randstad, roughly equidistant from Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Gouda has a regional function within the Green Heart, where it is the largest city in terms of inhabitants and the second largest municipality (after Alphen aan den Rijn). Measured by population, it is the 48th municipality of the Netherlands and the 12th municipality of South Holland.

Gouda is located at the confluence of the rivers Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel. Partly thanks to inland shipping on these rivers, Gouda grew into an important city in the Middle Ages. In 1272 the city was granted city rights and by the end of the Middle Ages Gouda had become the fifth city in Holland. A large number of historical and monumental buildings can still be found in the city center, of which the City Hall and St. John's Church are probably the most famous. The city is also known for its Gouda cheese, which is traded in the summer on the Thursday tourist cheese market. Finally, Gouda is known for the manufacture of candles, pipes, Gouda pottery, stroopwafels and the annual Candle Evening.



Gouda has long been referred to under other names such as Golde, Die Goude, Ter Goude and Tergouw, all referring to the river Gouwe. The Gouwe was first mentioned in a charter in 1139, under the Latin name Golda. This talked about 'new reclamations at the Gouwe': nove culture juxta Goldam. A charter from 1178 speaks of terram quandam juxta Goldam, 'certain land on the Gouwe'.

There are various theories about the origin of the name Gouwe, but none of them is conclusive. The name could be derived from the general name 'shire (e)' for a river with a road along it. According to another theory, the name would refer to the golden glow that the water of the Gouwe, once a peat flow, had. 'Golda' could have originated from the Germanic 'gulda' (gold) + 'ahwõ' (natural watercourse in sea clay area). This glow was then caused by the peat that was visible through the clear water.

The hitherto usual name Golde was transformed into Goude or Ter Goude in the Middle Ages. In medieval Latin texts the name was written as Gouda, which could mean both the river and the city. Partly thanks to humanists and historiography, the Latin name was eventually able to replace the name form 'Ter Goude', which was still in use for a long time. Nowadays, Gouda is the only city in the Netherlands that is referred to both officially and popularly by the Latin name form.

Despite the large number of products strongly associated with Gouda, the city does not have a well-known nickname. Sometimes people talk about the Cheese City, referring to the Gouda cheese, but this nickname is not only reserved for Gouda. Another nickname is the Gouwestad, after the river to which Gouda owes its name and existence. This name is reflected in the name of the regional television channel RTV Gouwestad. Waddinxveen, which lies northwest of Gouda and is also located along the Gouwe, is sometimes referred to as the Gouwedorp.

Gouwenaars are also called Kaaskoppen, a mockery that is also used for locals and Dutch people in general. This name may have originated in Stolwijk and would not have been derived from the cheese itself, but from cheese vats that were made by so-called head turners. In conflict, these cheese barrels were put on the head as a helmet.

Around the year 1000 the area where Gouda is now situated was swampy and covered with a swamp forest, containing small rivers, such as the Gouwe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, peat extraction started to the east and west of the city and along the banks of the Gouwe. In 1143, the name Gouda was first mentioned in a charter of the count of Holland.

In the 13th century the river Gouwe was connected by a canal with the Oude Rijn and the mouth in the Hollandse IJssel was expanded into a harbor. The castle of Gouda was built on the outskirts of the city in the 14th century to protect the harbor. These developments created a shipping route, which was used for trade between Flanders and France with Holland and the Baltic Sea area. In 1272, Count Floris V granted city rights to Gouda, which had meanwhile become an important place.

In 1361 and 1438, city fires caused great damage in the city. In the city fire of 1438, only four houses would have been spared. After the conquest of Gouda by the Geuzen on June 21, 1572, the castle of Gouda was demolished in 1577, in order not to let it fall into the hands of the Spaniards in the event of a possible reconquest. However, the question is whether this was the actual reason for the demolition, or whether the Gouda population took up the war to get rid of the castle and its owner. The final demolition of the castle was not completed until 1808, when the Chartertoren was demolished. Even before the castle was completely demolished, a mill was erected on the foundation of the castle near the former courtyard. After this mill burnt down in 1831, it was replaced a year later by the mill 't Slot, which is still standing.

In the last quarter of the 16th century, Gouda had serious economic problems. In the first half of the 17th century the city recovered and between 1665 and 1672 the city even experienced a time of great progress and prosperity. However, when the Dutch War broke out in the disaster year 1672, the city experienced another economic downturn. Although the economy rebounded once more after 1700, the decline would eventually last well into the 19th century. In 1673 Gouda was hit by the plague for the fourth and worst time. The epidemic took the lives of 2,995 people, about 20% of the population. In addition, Gouda had to deal with rebellious farmers from the area, who occupied the town hall for 24 hours in June 1672.


In the 19th century, the city walls of Gouda were demolished; the last city gate was demolished in 1854. During this period Gouda also had to deal with cholera epidemics, the first outbreak was a fact in 1832. Partly thanks to the construction of a sewage system and a water supply network, the disease was managed at the end of the 19th century to reduce. Around the same time, Gouda also finally started to benefit from the better economic climate. Companies such as the Stearine Candle Factory and the Goudsche Machinale Garenspinnerij played an important part in this. In 1855 the Gouda station was put into use on the new Utrecht - Rotterdam railway line. Fifteen years later, the rail connection with The Hague also followed. In the early 20th century, the city began to expand beyond the canals. The districts of Korte Akkeren, Kort Haarlem and Kadebuurt were built in the first half of this century.

During the Second World War, Gouda was the target of bombing raids by the Allies several times. In 1941, the Noothoven van Goorstraat, Fluwelensingel and the Krugerlaan were hit. In 1944, among other things, the Vest was hit and the dyke of the Nieuwe Gouwe was damaged. The station was hit twice during bombing raids in November 1944. In total, 45 people were killed in the bombing raids in Gouda. 328 of the Gouda Jews were murdered during the occupation, only 40 survived the Holocaust.

After the occupation, Gouda expanded further and the neighborhoods Oosterwei, Bloemendaal and Goverwelle were realized. In 1940, with the filling in of the Nieuwehaven, a start was made on closing the canals in the city center. After the Second World War, the Raam, the Nonnenwater, the Naaierstraat and the Achter de Vismarkt were also filled in. Partly due to the protests from the bourgeoisie and the changed views of urban planners, the filling in of the historically valuable city canals was not continued. In 1977 the weekly pig market, the largest in the Netherlands, disappeared from the city. The weekly cheese market on Thursday was maintained only as a tourist phenomenon. The current main station was built in 1984, but the area around the station, the Spoorzone, is being renovated in 2015. After the realization of Goverwelle in the eighties and nineties, the city also expanded again with the district, Westergouwe.



Part of Gouda is a protected cityscape. It has a historic center with some well-known buildings and a canal system. This canal system was more extensive in the past, but between the 1930s and the 1960s, part of the canals were filled in for economic reasons. Around 2007 there were voices to dig open a number of these filled-in canals again, but whether this will actually happen is uncertain. In a more distant past, the city also had defenses, a number of city gates and even a castle, but little of this can be seen. Nevertheless, Gouda still has a total of 330 national monuments, of which the old town hall and the Sint-Janskerk are probably the best known. The top of the Gouwekerk is the highest point in the city at 80 meters.

The Markt is the center of the historic city center. In the middle of this fan-shaped central square is the old town hall on the Markt. The town hall, built from natural stone after the last major city fire between 1448 and 1450, is one of the oldest Gothic town halls in the Netherlands. The town hall is decorated on several sides with old statues and reliefs. To the side of the building is a more recent chime that rings every half hour and shows a short spectacle symbolizing the acquisition of city rights. Also on the Markt is the 17th-century Waag. This building was built in 1668 to a design by architect Pieter Post and for a long time had an important function as a weighing place for cheeses. The VVV used to be located in this cheese weighing house, later the Cheese and Crafts Museum was established in the building. The rest of the market is mainly occupied by historic buildings, which house restaurants, cafes and shops.

South of the Markt is the Grote or Sint-Janskerk. At 123 meters, the building is the longest church building in the Netherlands and is best known for its stained glass windows, also known as the "Goudse Glass". The gothic cross church is in the Top 100 of the National Agency for the Preservation of Monuments. Southeast of the Sint-Janskerk are also the Willem Vroesenhuis, the former Orphanage and the Jerusalem Chapel. South of the church, the former hospital and present city museum Catharina Gasthuis is located on the street Achter de Kerk. The entrance to the museum garden is formed by the Lazarus gate, which contains a relief by sculptor Gregorius Cool.

A narrow canal runs along the street Achter de Kerk. This continues underneath the buildings and then ends at the Gouwe and the Haven. Thanks to the shipping industry in the past, a large number of monumental buildings can be found in these streets. For example, on both sides of the Gouwe are the 'Visbank' and the 'Korenbeurs', both of which functioned as a fish market. On the side of the Gouwe where the Korenbeurs is also located, called the Hoge Gouwe, is also the 20th-century Sint-Jozefkerk or Gouwekerk. This neo-Gothic cross church was built in 1904 and its partially open spire is the highest point of both the historic center and the entire city. The Hoge and Lage Gouwe still house a few churches. Halfway the Hoge Gouwe is the church building of the old Catholic parish of St. Jan Baptist, acquired by pastor Petrus Purmerent as a hidden church. In the period from 1630 to 1661 Purmerent bought various houses on the Gouwe and the Raam, in 1684 this complex was expanded by Jacob Catz. The renovation of this church was completed in the following years by pastor Ignatius Walvis. On the corner of Hoge Gouwe and Keizerstraat was the former secret church of the Remonstrant congregation, now only the portal building remains of the newly built church. Also on the Hoge Gouwe, opposite the Turfmarkt, is the entrance to the Christian Reformed church, built in 1928, behind a house. On the corner of Lage Gouwe and Lange Groenendaal is the 15th-century St. Josse Chapel, at the former St. Josse Hospital of the pocket carriers' guild. This chapel has been used by the Evangelical Lutheran congregation since 1683.

The Turfmarkt is, just like the Gouwe and the Haven, one of the larger canals with various monumental buildings on either side. On the north side are the Turfmarktkerk and the Libertum (former Resistance Museum Zuid-Holland) in a former bank building. On the other side is the former synagogue, now a church building of the Free Evangelical Congregation. Both the synagogue and Libertum are protected as national monuments. Another noteworthy building is located at Naaierstraat 6. This building is a late Gothic house better known as The Four Crowned, after the frieze of the same name on the facade. The building is, like the Sint Janskerk, on the Top 100 of the National Agency for the Preservation of Monuments.


Like some other historic Dutch cities, Gouda also has a number of courtyards. The city had 21 courtyards in 1750, but some of these have since been demolished. Courtyards consisted of a collection of small houses around a communal courtyard and served as shelter for the elderly or the poor. At the Nieuwehaven there are two of these courtyards, both dating from the 17th century: the Hofje van Cincq and the Hofje van Letmaet. Another courtyard is Swanenburgh's courtyard on the Groeneweg on the other side of the city center.

There is a network of locks both inside and outside the center. In the past, Gouda owed an important part of its economic prosperity to its location and locks. The route that the water travels through the city center between the Hollandse IJssel and the Gouwe even has the longest lock in Europe. The Waaiersluis and Julianasluis are also located in the Hollandse IJssel. The Mallegat lock forms the connection between the Hollandse IJssel and the Turfsingel. At the end of the Oost- and Westhaven you will find Het Tolhuis and the associated lockkeeper's house near the harbor lock, which is now closed. Here the ships sailed from the direction of Rotterdam into the city through the always present lock gates.

There are also four windmills in Gouda: the Roode Leeuw, 't Slot, the Haastrechtse Molen and the Mallemolen, which was restored in 2010. In the past, Gouda has counted a total of more than twenty mills, of which now only the four mentioned mills remained. South of the city center, between the Schielands Hoge Zeedijk and the Hollandse IJssel, the 19th century Water Tower is located. Finally, Gouda has four cemeteries, the largest of which is the Crematorium and Cemetery IJsselhof. The Jewish cemetery, the Old Cemetery and the Roman Catholic Cemetery Gouda are all smaller in size and date from the 19th century.

Gouda has several museums. Museum Gouda is a museum with altarpieces from the 16th century, 19th century paintings from the Arntzenius collection (The Hague School and the Barbizon School) and an extensive collection of Gouda pottery. Since 2012, Museum Gouda has also had a city model on which Gouda was accurately reconstructed in the year 1562 on a scale of 1 to 350. The monumental building also houses an old city pharmacy, the surgeon's guild room and a cellar with torture instruments.

Besides Museum Gouda there are other museums in the city. In Museumhaven Gouda are inhabited monumental ships, Libertum (formerly Resistance Museum Zuid-Holland) at the Turfmarkt is a museum about the South Holland resistance in the Second World War and the Waag aan de Markt is home to the Gouda Cheese and Crafts Museum. The National Pharmaceutical Museum, which was closed in 2011, was located on the Westhaven, in the 'De Moriaan' building.

Art in public space
Various statues, sculptures, war memorials and other objects can be admired not only in the Gouda museums, but also in the public space, both classical works of art - including a number of statues from the 17th century - and modern works. In the Houtmansplantsoen there are monuments to the brothers Cornelis and Frederik de Houtman and to former mayor Van Bergen IJzendoorn from the 19th century. Art from the 20th century is widely spread throughout the city: in the southern part of the city - the city center - 33 objects, in the eastern part of the city 21 objects, in the western part of the city 16 objects and in the northern part of the city 25 objects.

Statues that have been in Gouda since the 17th century are, for example, the depiction of the likeness of the rich man and the poor Lazarus on the Lazarus gate from 1609, by Gregorius Cool, who also created the steps of the town hall a few years earlier, including the images of the Bag carriers. The entrance gate to the Willem Vroesenhuis, also by Cool, on Spieringstraat and the marble work Bartholomeus Eggers's weighing company on the Markt also date from the 17th century, 1614 and 1668 respectively. There are also works of more recent date. Since 1988, De Kaasboerin (De Kaasboerin) has been standing on the Nieuwe Markt, a bronze sculpture by the Stolwijk-based visual artist Ineke van Dijk that depicts a farmer's wife with a Gouda cheese clutching her. In the nineties of the 20th century, sculptures by eleven visual artists, the Gouda Sculpture Route, were placed along the canals of Gouda. This project was realized in part thanks to a bequest from Mrs. James-Van der Hoop, wife of the former mayor of Gouda, Karel Frederik Otto James.


The most famous writers who have lived in Gouda are the humanists Desiderius Erasmus and Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert. Erasmus was probably not born in Gouda, but attended parish school there in his youth and later spent a few years in the nearby monastery in Stein; Coornhert spent his last years in the city, where many of his works were printed by Jasper Tournay, who lived there. In the 19th century, Anna Barbara van Meerten-Schilperoort was described by Multatuli as an important writer. The writer Herman de Man, writer of regional novels, lived in Gouda for several years in the 20th century. His novel Shipyard De Kroonprinces is set in Gouda.

Father Ignatius Walvis, although not born in Gouda, played an important role in Gouda historiography as a chronicler. In 1713 his Beschryving der stad Gouda was published, which is still an important source for historians. The patriot Cornelis Johan de Lange van Wijngaerden also described the history of the city in History of Heeren and description of the city of van der Gouda. Walvis en de Lange are considered to be the founders of modern Gouda historiography.

In the field of poetry, Gouda has also produced a number of famous people. In the past, these included Florentius Schoonhoven and later Hieronymus van Alphen. In the 20th and 21st century Leo Vroman has also gained national and international fame. The phenomenon of city poet has been known in Gouda since 2003. The first city poet at the time was Inez Meter, the current city poet is Ruud Broekhuizen.

Film, theater and music
The largest cinema in Gouda is Cinema Gouda on Burgemeester Jamessingel (at the northern exit of the station). Previously, the Arcade Cinema was the largest cinema in Gouda, located in the old barracks on Agnietenstraat. The Filmhuis Gouda is also located in the Korte Akkeren district, where mainly arthouse films are screened. In addition, Gouda has a theater called De Goudse Schouwburg, just outside the city center on the Boelekade. The building was inaugurated in 1992 and has two rooms. In early 2012, this theater was named Theater of the Year 2011.

Gouda does not have a large concert hall. There are, however, two music venues: core puppet stage So What !, located on the Vest, and pop venue StudioGonz (Formerly De Gonz), a hall in the Garenspinnerij on the Turfsingel. Furthermore, a number of events are organized in the field of music. During the summer months, concerts are given every Sunday in the Houtmansplantsoen. Spieringpop is a pop festival for bands from Gouda and the region and is held in September. In the same month, the jazz festival Yes Gouda Jazz is also organized.

In Gouda, two of the five barrel organs that have the status of protected cultural property in the Netherlands play: De Pansfluiter and De Lekkerkerker.

Various events take place in Gouda every year. For example, there is the Orange Night, in the evening and night before King's Day. In the past, De Dijk, Di-rect, Milk Inc., Yes-R, Belle Pérez and Lange Frans & Baas B have performed here. The Gouda Ceramics Days take place in May, where ceramists exhibit their work and exhibitions can also be visited. Another annual event is the weekly tourist Cheese and Crafts Market in the summer months, where the famous Gouda cheese is traded. The cheese market is surrounded by the weekly market and stalls with artisan workers, who show how clogs, buttermilk and candles were made in the past. In the summer, the multi-day event Goudse Havenstaddagen and the curio market Gouds Montmartre also take place. Furthermore, concerts are given in the Houtmansplantsoen in the summer. The fair usually takes place in September.

On the second or third Friday of December is "Gouda by candlelight", the so-called candle evening. The city center is completely lit with candles, a tradition that attracts many visitors to Gouda every year. Then, in December and January, there is "Gouda by artificial light", during which, among other things, the town hall is decorated with changing light projections by the artist Patrice Warrener. Artfully edited photos of the facade are projected onto the same facade using a special chromolithe technique. Visitors can also enjoy themselves in the winter months on an ice rink on the Markt.