Gouda, more than cheese.
Gouda was one of the largest cities in medieval Holland. It prospered as a waterway junction in the north-south trade route France - Flanders - Holland - Baltic. Barges had to pass through locks here from the river IJssel, a branch of the Rhine, to the canalised northern rivers.
A 15th century centre of textile industry, and beer production with at one point more than 150 breweries !
And of course, Gouda became the focus of a region that produces cheeses of the same name. In summer, there's still the traditional cheese market on the main square.
An example of the wealth of Gouda is the church of Sint Jan. Mostly mid 16th century, rebuilt after a devastating fire. City fires were a continual worry in these highly inflammable medieval towns. It is said that the 1438 fire left only four houses standing.
During the early stages of the Eighty Years' War of Independence (1568 - 1648), and with Reformation and Protestantism taking over in Holland, a lot of damage was caused to the old Catholic buildings. Also in the Sint Jan church, but by miracle the unique stained glass windows survived. Those alone are worth visiting Gouda.
External links :
More on the city of Gouda : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouda
Website of the Sint-Jan Church, with virtual tour : www.sintjan.com
Gouda city museum : www.museumgouda.nl.
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