alkmaar cheese market

cheese headed to market

cheese headed to market

The cheese market in Alkmaar has been an institution since 1593.  The market happens on Fridays from mid-April to mid-September and during a market day an average of 30,000 kilograms of Gouda and Edam cheese are sold.  Holy smokes that's a lot of cheese!  All those big golden wheels of cheese were quite a sight when they were all lined up in the square.

The market starts at 10am and opens with a bell-ringing.  The cheese is inspected for taste, smell, moisture, fat content and appearance, then the bidding starts.  After a deal has been made, the cheese is carried to the scale by members of the cheese carriers guild and weighed.  After it has been weighed the guild carries 8 wheels of cheese at a time on a cart to the buyer's waiting truck.  Each wheel of cheese weighs about 13.5 kg, so when the cart is loaded it weighs about 130 kg, that's a lot!

The cheese-carrier's guild has always played an important role.  They continue to wear the traditional costume, with coloured straw hats (which shows what team they're on) with a white suit.  They zipped around the square, carting the cheese, stacking new piles - it was a lot of fun to watch.

Going to the cheese market was a lot of fun, and it was one of the things I wanted to do during my time in the Netherlands, so I was really glad I got to see it with my family.  Alkmaar is really pretty, and would be worth another visit - both for the town, and the cheese.

Here's a link to an Alkmaar City Guide with more info and history. 

we had to duck down in the boat to make it under some of the low bridges during our canal boat tour

we had to duck down in the boat to make it under some of the low bridges during our canal boat tour