Gouda, South Holland


Gouda (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣʌudaː] ) is a city and municipality in the west of the Netherlands, between Rotterdam and Utrecht, in the province of South Holland. Gouda has a population of 75,000 and is famous for its Gouda cheese, stroopwafels, many grachten, smoking pipes, and its 15th-century city hall. Its array of historic churches and other buildings makes it a very popular day-trip destination.

Panoramic view of the city
Panoramic view of the city
City centre
City centre
Historic town hall
Historic town hall
Flag of Gouda
Coat of arms of Gouda
Highlighted position of Gouda in a municipal map of South Holland
Location in South Holland
Gouda is located in Netherlands
Location within the Netherlands
Gouda is located in Europe
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 52°0′40″N 4°42′40″E / 52.01111°N 4.71111°E / 52.01111; 4.71111
ProvinceSouth Holland
 • BodyMunicipal council
 • MayorPieter Verhoeve (SGP)
 • Total18.11 km2 (6.99 sq mi)
 • Land16.50 km2 (6.37 sq mi)
 • Water1.61 km2 (0.62 sq mi)
Elevation0 m (0 ft)
 (January 2021)[3]
 • Total73,681
 • Density4,466/km2 (11,570/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code0182
Topographic map of Gouda

In the Middle Ages the Van der Goude [nl] family founded a settlement at the location of the current city and built a fortified castle alongside the banks of the Gouwe River, from which the family and the city took their names. Locals long called the settlement Ter Goude, or Tergou or Tergouw [nl] for short.[4] The area, originally marshland, developed over the course of two centuries.[timeframe?] By 1225, a canal was linked to the Gouwe and its estuary became a harbour. In 1272 Floris V, Count of Holland granted the town city rights.


City centre of Gouda in 1650, by Joan Blaeu
Gouda's 15th-century town hall (1449–1459, formerly moated)[5]

Around the year 1100, the area of present-day Gouda 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 was first mentioned in a document of 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 (Dutch: 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.

1551 marked the founding of the oldest still-functioning inn, De Zalm, located on Markt 34, near the historic Waag building.

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.[6]

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. However, its economy collapsed again when the Franco-Dutch 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.[7] Gouda was one of the poorest cities in the Netherlands during that period: the terms "Goudaner" and "beggar" were considered synonymous.[8]

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 improved economic conditions. New companies, such as Stearine Kaarsenfabriek (Stearine Candle Factory) and Machinale Garenspinnerij (Mechanized Yarn Spinnery), gave impetus to its economy. In 1855, the Gouda-Utrecht railway began operations. At 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 [nl], Bloemendaal [nl], Goverwelle [nl] and Westergouwe [nl] after World War II.

From 1940 on, back-filling of the city moats and city-canals, the grachten, began: the Nieuwehaven, Raam, Naaierstraat, and Achter de Vismarkt. However, 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 which killed eight and wounded ten 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. In recent years there has been a shift from expanding the city towards urban renewal and gentrification.


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 107–108


Gouda's Cheese Market

Gouda is known 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 several beer breweries.

Gouda cheese is not made in the city itself, but rather 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's 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.[9] Even in the 17th century, it already was a tourist attraction;
  • Museum Gouda [nl][10] - museum about the history and arts of the city;
  • Verzetsmuseum - a museum about the Dutch resistance during World War II, the collection currently in storage as museum building closed in November 2018;
  • 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). According to Stichting Goudse Kaas, it attracted 60,000 tourists each year (as of 2017).[11]
  • Gouda Ceramics Days, a 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.

Twin towns – sister cities


Gouda is twinned with:[12]

Notable people

Portrait of Erasmus by Holbein, 1523

Public thinking & public service


Science & business

Leo Vroman, 1983

The arts

Cornelis Engelsz, self-portrait, 1612


Gillian van den Berg, 2008
Bianca de Jong-Muhren, 2005


  1. ^ "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten 2020" [Key figures for neighbourhoods 2020]. StatLine (in Dutch). CBS. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Postcodetool for 2801JM". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  4. ^ Abels, P. H. A. M., ed. (200). Duizend jaar Gouda: een stadsgeschiedenis. Verzameling bijdragen: Historische Vereniging Die Goude, volume 30 (in Dutch). Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren. p. 15. ISBN 9789065507174. Retrieved 9 November 2023. Gouda werd vanouds 'Ter Goude' genoemd, of kortweg 'Tergou'. Deze naam betekent 'stad aan de Goude, dat wil zeggen: Gouwe'. [...] In het Nederlands bleef de naamsvorm 'Ter Goude' nog tot ver in de vroegmoderne tijd in gebruik.
  5. ^ Weigert, Hans (1961). Busch, Harald; Lohse, Bernd (eds.). Buildings of Europe: Renaissance Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. xii, 114.
  6. ^ Abels, pp. 302-303
  7. ^ Abels, pp. 364-365
  8. ^ Schouten, Jan (1977) Gouda door de eeuwen (Gouda through the ages) Repro-Holland, Alphen aan de Rijn, NL, pg. 156 OCLC 63324059 in Dutch
  9. ^ Harten-Boers, Henny van: The stained-glass windows in the Sint Janskerk at Gouda I Archived May 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Museum Gouda". www.museumgouda.nl.
  11. ^ "Kaasmarkt levendiger", Goudse Post (29 March 2017) p.1
  12. ^ "Gouda bezoekt zusterstad Solingen om banden aan te halen". ad.nl (in Dutch). AD. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  13. ^ "Erasmus, Desiderius" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). 1911.


  • 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
  • Lourens, Piet; Lucassen, Jan (1997). Inwonertallen van Nederlandse steden ca. 1300–1800. Amsterdam: NEHA. ISBN 9057420082.
  • 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
  • Official website for the city of Gouda (in Dutch)
  • A collection of old pictures and drawings of Gouda. (A journey through the past)
  • Virtual Tour of St. Johns church (Sint Janskerk) Gouda
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gouda" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 280.