Welcome to the world's most famous cheese market
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.
Alkmaar cheese market
Alkmaar, best known for its cheese and historical cheese market, is a beautiful city 30 kilometres north of Amsterdam. In 1593 the first cheese market took place and since then Alkmaar has been one of the most important cities for the trading of cheese. The weekly cheese market is still the largest in its kind and the only market where the trading is done the same as centuries ago.
Every Friday from the last Friday of March until the last Friday of September from 10.00 am until around 12:30 pm (September until 14:00 pm) you can see this cultural-historical spectacle, when the men of the cheese carrier’s guild demonstrate how the cheeses were inspected, weighed and moved in bygone days. This unique event is free of charge and also accessible for disabled people.
In 1365 the city already owned one pair of cheese weighing scales but 1593 is considered the first year of the cheese market. The market has always taken place at the Waagplein. This square has been extended several times in the last centuries, it was enlarged eight times before it reached its current dimensions, which shows the importance of the cheese trade for Alkmaar.
In earlier days Edam cheese was also being traded at the Alkmaar cheese market but nowadays only Goudse cheese is being traded. The Goudse cheese is the most famous type of cheese in The Netherlands. It has a round and flat shape and weights around 12 kilos. At one of the many stalls around the market square you can taste different kinds of cheese.
Cheese market with kids
The cheese market is interesting for all ages but there are some extra things for kids also. For example, in the Cheese museum there is a special tour for children. Not only very educational but also a lot of fun! For more information visit the Tourist Information office at the Waagplein.
The 'Waag' building
The weighing of the cheese takes place in the ‘Waag’ building. This beautiful building was first used as a chapel and a hospital. At the end of the 16th century it was turned into the cheese weighing house for the cheese markets. In the tower there is a big carillon which is being played by the city's carillon player during the cheese market and every Saturday morning.
The cheese carriers
The cheese carrier’s guild was established in 1593. The 30 men of the guild are very strict on protecting the tradtions of the cheese market and make sure everything is done according to it. After the traders have agreed on a price by bargaining and clapping hands the cheese carriers will carry the cheese to the weighing scales. The running with the 130 kilos weighing barrow with cheese is not easy, it takes a lot of practice to learn the special technique.
The cheese girls
The Alkmaar cheese girls are the face of the cheese market. Not only do they promote the cheese and the cheese market but they also promote the city of Alkmaar. They will give you a warm welcome and are happy to pose for a photo. They can also tell you everything about the cheese market and the other highlights of the city.
Arts and crafts fair
Every Friday when the cheese market takes place there is also an arts and crafts fair from 09:00AM to 13:00PM. Around the cheese market at the Waagplein and the Mient there are many stalls. Not only can you buy traditional Dutch arts and crafts but you can also taste and buy lots of cheese!