Edam is a small town in North-Holland, the most northwestern province of The Netherlands. It is located just 15 Kilometers north of Amsterdam. Edam now forms the municipality of Edam-Volendam together with Volendam. Originally it was located on the river E and was also called
. Many waters (rivers, streams, lakes) have names that contain Aa, Ae, E, Ee, Ie, or IJ. This simply means 'water' (compare French:
Its rich history begins in the 12th century with the establishment of a settlement of farmers and fishermen. The oldest mention of the location is from 1310, in which it is referred to as a kerspel (area belonging to a church).
By charter of November 19, 1357 (St. Elizabeth's Day), Count William V of Bavaria gave the burghers of Edam the great privilege and the city of Edam was mentioned for the first time. With this great privilege permission was given to dig a new toll-free and unobstructed outer harbor, the Oorgat . In addition, a license was granted to hold three annual general markets.
More than two centuries later, in 1573, it was Prince William of Orange who granted Edam the perpetual right to keep a cheese market as a reward for her good and loyal services during the siege of Alkmaar. Nowadays the cheese trade has become too large for a small local center. The Edam cheese has become a stock market item and the traditional cheese markets are just a tourist attraction.
Edam's past is still very much alive. The beautifully preserved silhouette of this picturesque town is dominated by the slender carillion equiped old church tower. This carillion dates from 1561 and is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. Historical Edam has a lot to offer to the visitor. Walking through the old center you will find the many monumental houses, churches, harbours, canals, squares and markets.
Not only its beautiful cityscape earns Edam world fame, but also the well-known round-shaped cheeses. These are still exported to all corners of the world in large numbers, already 500,000 in the mid 17th-century!
When visiting Edam, the cheese weighing house, built in 1778, and the weekly Cheese Markets in July and August are not to be missed. A visit to the Edam Museum is also worthwhile. This 16th-century merchant house with its still original interior and floating cellar gives a good impression of the way how wealthy people from earlier centuries lived in such a house. In the majestic Great or St. Nicolaas Church you can admire a beautiful collection of stained glass windows from the early 17th-century.
In 1558, so over 400 years ago, the priest Matthias Tynicy Matthiasz, whose name still lives on by the Matthijs Tinxgracht , founded the Orphanage in Grote Kerkstraat . In the mid-eighties of last century, the Municipal Social Service was housed in this building. The building as it looked before the renovation at the end of 1770, is hardly recognisable, but the old colored facing brick, framed by a fake Greek temple, still adorns the facade. It depicts orphan boys who are playing golf. Above the gate on the side at the Matthijs Tinxgracht , two orphans are depicted in clothing, that still can be found in Frisian places.
Not being able to list everything in a nutshell, it is recommended to take a walk through Edam. You will notice that the bustling present meets an atmosphere of times passed. Something impossible to describe.