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 IJedam . Many waters (rivers, streams, lakes) have names that contain Aa, Ae, E, Ee, Ie, or IJ. This simply means 'water' (compare French: eau ).

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.

The Great Church of Edam is dedicated to St. Nicholas, patron saint of skippers and sailors. It was built in the early 15th-century as a cross-type church, the central nave then had narrow side aisles. Towards the end of the 15th-century, these side aisles were widened, creating a hall-type church. In the early 16th-century, the choir, of a modest size, was demolished and replaced by the current extensive choir. A short time later, the church was ravaged by fire, caused by a lightning strike in the tower. The fire caused considerable damage to the building, but immediately after the disaster, in 1602, restauration started. The church had to be largely rebuilt, which took 24 years in total to complete. The church was also given new windows, many made of stained glass. These windows, 31 in total, were all donated and can easily compete with the famous glasses of Gouda.

The current organ of the church was built in 1662-1663 by Barent Smit, organist and organ builder from Hoorn.

ln 1699 the tower was struck again by lightning. Apparently discouraged by the constant threat of natural violence, it was decided to build the tower lower than before. As we can read from the year anchors this was completed in 1701. The last big restauration took place in 1979, but in 2004, after the public action "church of cheese", the top of the tower was restored and the longhorn beetle living there was removed. The large bells have also been fully restored and can be heard again every hour.

According to a memorial stone in the hall, the Town Hall at Damplein 1 was built by Jacob Jongh, master carpenter. The first stone was laid on May 18, 1737 by Mr. Roelof Boot. The council chamber, the former aldermen's hall, is still in its original state. The wallpaper painted by W. Rave in 1738 represents the coronation of Saul and Solomon's First Right. The tourist office of Edam is located in this building. The top floor houses an annex of the Edam museum.

The main location of this museum is located diagonally across the Dam square, in the oldest stone house of Edam dating from ± 1540. In 1895 the house was restored and turned into a museum. A curious sight in the Edams museum is part of the house itself: the famous floating cellar. A sailor who had the house built would have thought of the sailing cellar, but this is nothing more than a legend.

Right around the corner from the town hall is the beginning of the main and oldest canal of Edam, the Voorhaven. On the north side, better known as the “ dark side ” of the Voorhaven , are some of Edam's most important monuments.

First in line we come across Het Huys Haerlem . This house was built and functioned as a bank office for a long time. In 1925 the current building was rebuilt as a reconstruction to a much older building. This earlier building was probably demolished sometime in the 19th-century due to overdue maintenance and lack of money. It was replaced by a much simpler building, now again replaced by the current one. The facade today is a wonderful example of the rebirth of the Dutch neo-classicism of the time between the two world wars.

Next to Het Huys Haerlem we find the most beautiful canal house in Edam Het huis met de Zwaan . The house owes this name to the beautiful swan on top, created by the builder Jan Michielszn. the Swan. It was put on there in 1659 and has been sitting there ever since.

The house is a classic example of a 17th-century Dutch canal and merchant's house. It is entirely in the style of the famous Amsterdam architect Vingbooms.

In the early 20th-century, the house was saved for likely demolition by acclaimed artist W.O.J.N. Nieuwenkamp. From the late 1940's to 1975 the house was a museum for his work and collection. The collection has now come back to Edam and parts can be seen at the Edam Museum.

At number 135 we can see the Lutheran Church. The church building, still in use as a church, was built on the site of the former Edam town hall and was consecrated in the year 1741. The Evangelical Lutheran congregation obtained the land “free of charge” from the Edam mayors resulting in a text above the church door: “ Since it was the holy right / For the benefit of the common interest, now is, according to the prescription of God's Word / The peace and penance trumpet heard. Thank God and the honourable Council / By whose favour this house stands here ”.
A thorough and full restoration was completed in 1991. 250 years after construction and 150 years after the first major restoration in 1841.

It is clear that cheese plays a major role in Edam's history. This role becomes clear when we see the three cheese warehouses that can be found next along the canal. Many hundreds of well-known round cheeses were stored here over250 years. Nowadays part of the ware houses are now used as bakery a and shop.

Also on the Voorhaven , but on the opposite “light" side, is the Holy Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicolas. This is a so-called water management church, built by order of the Dutch Ministry of Water Management in the years 1824/1825. This first construction was followed by an extension to the current three-aisled church building in the years 1846/1857. The central nave, transept and priest's choir are covered with a tongue vault, the aisles covered with cross vaults, all in white plaster.

The old post office located at Dam Square 1 nowadays is called the Petersburch, after its architect Cornelis Peters. In 1889 he was the government architect and among others also responsible for designing the main post office (now Magna Plaza ) in Amsterdam. He was a student of P.J.H. Cuypers, the architect of the Rijksmuseum and Central Station. This is clearly visible in this building. It has neo-renaissance influences, pale yellow sandstone bands and a straight tower, which gives the building a special character.

Edam's 'oldest wooden house' is located on the corner of Eilandsgracht / Breestraat . The fact this house has survived the many city fires that have also plagued Edam is extraordinary.
The regulations that aimed to replace the wooden facades with stone walls, in order to better cope with the recurring fires, have passed this house.

The building is an extremely rare example of Gothic wood construction in the Netherlands. It was built around 1530. An indication of this Gothic era is the door calf, decorated with a typical low arcade arch and rosettes.

Apart from the stone back room, which is a later addition, the entire house consists of wood. The window hatches in the entirely original front facade turn up and down. The door with the beautiful lock also most likely dates from the earliest construction time. The house was thoroughly restored around 1980.

The Proveniershof or Proeve s located opposite the Grote Kerk. It is a group of alms houses set up in 1555 bij Jan Claeszoon Brouwer on the site of the houses of the Beguines, a sisterhood of nurses. The two wings of the building date mostly from the 17th-century, although at a later date a fair amount of changes were made. The small bleaching field of the Beguines has now been changed into a superb courtyard garden, in summer with a mass of colourful flowers.

On April 16 1526 Emperor Charles V granted Edam, for the annual price of 90 guilders, the right to hold a weekly market, including the weighing of goods.

On March 2, 1594, this right of Weighing was eternally granted by Prince Willem I against an annual feet of 10 guilders. The market was held until 1922, except from 1745 to 1775. Cheese was traded directly from farmer to trader. The industrialisation of the entire Dutch cheese production ended this kind of market trade. Since 1989 tradition lives on as a tourist attraction in today's cheese markets. The centrepiece of this colourful spectacle are the cheese carriers, transporting and delivering the round-shaped cheeses on wooden 'berries ' or carriers.

The Waag or weighing house dates from 1778. The building houses a permanent exhibition about cheese making. Cheese can be tasted and bought there. Unfortunately there is no cheese farm in Edam anymore. There are still several cheese export companies here, which let their cheeses 'mature' in large warehouses. To give you an idea of the former cheese production; in 1649 over 250,000 cheeses were traded in Edam; today the Netherlands produces more than 27 million Edam cheeses a year.

Over the centuries, an important chapter of Edam history has taken place on the Cheese Market or the Jan van Nieuwenhuyzenplein as its officially called. In the past, the Cheese Market and Prince Mauritspad were part of the open water connection Achterhaven / Matthijs Tinxgracht . In 1622 the Bierkade (Beer Quay) was built on this spot, where the Edam brewers built their houses. Around 1680, the water was filled in and the Cheese Market, until then held elsewhere in the city, was moved to the new square.

The building next to the Weighing House, housed the Cafe 'East Indies'. Here people could toast after a favourable market trade. As unfortunately so often with the houses around the cheese market, the original windows were replaced in the early 19th-century by windows with a different and much less appealing window division.

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.

The carillion equipped tower of the old church, the The original bells of the carillon were cast in 1561 byThe church itself was largely demolished in 1882. Neglect had caused this monument to suffer so severely that only the part adjoining the tower could be preserved. However, the slender late Gothic tower still defines Edam's silhouette in an emphatic way.

In 1972 there was great panic in Edam when local residents noticed that the tower was in danger of falling over. The building seemed to slowly slide off its foundation. Fortunately the danger was turned. The monument that is so iconic to Edam has now been restored. With its heavy clocks, the tower is firmly fixed on a foundation of no less then 16 m2.

The On the right side of the lock is the very old 15th-century shipyard, where old wooden ships are still being restored on the slipway.
Beyond the 'Servants lock' the street gets a different name and is called Doelland , after the Schuttersdoelen (Civic Guard shooting range) that once stood here.
The Civic Guards are well know from the Nightwatch painting by Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum .

There also is a so-called twin house in this street. The facade consists of two 17th-century, linked stepped gables. Internally there is only one timber frame, so the attic beams run through the partition wall.
This was quite possible due to the small width of both individual houses. You could say that this is a form of social housing, at a time when not the time worked, but the materials used were expensive.

At the right end of the short part of the Doelland , is the famous ' Kwakel Bridge ': a favorite subject for painters, photographers and draftsmen. From the bridge we have a beautiful view of the shipyard at Boerenverdriet (Farmers sorrow) and, not to forget, the Speeltoren (The Old Church Tower). The Kwakel Bridge is one of the severalwooden 'seesaw bridges' with a blade that are still existent in Edam. A yoke divides the suspended chain into two parts. The valve is attached to this chain. The bridge is opened by tugging the chain, that is suspended from the weight at the bottom of the bridge. The weight ensures that the bridge can then be opened easily. The bridge is very old and already appears on the famous 17th century Edam map of Johan Blaeu.

At the end of the Schepenmakersdijk , behind a wooden gate, we find ' the Gemeenlandshuis ' (home of the water Authorities), from 1785. It consists of three buildings from the 18th century grouped around a court. The court looks colourful with the paths of yellow and purple stones, the bright red geraniums. We also find a couple of garden statues placed on pedestals depicting the seasons.
The left wing was used for a small meeting room at the front, and the architect's home at the back. Members of the executive board, attending meetings from Alkmaar or came to see the works could spend the night here.
The centre building was expanded in 1836 at the rear with a new, larger meeting room.
Above the entrance doors of the wooden gate carved ornaments with the coat of arms between dolphins and crowned with a royal and imperial crown is placed.

The Mill at the Broekgouw (a so-called octagonal inner porter ), with a flight of 22 meters, was probably built in 1670. The hull and hood are covered with reed. The mill originally drained the 737 ha large Zuidpolder on the Schermerboezem . Currently, the dewatering area is still 590 ha.

According to a map from 1630, the Zuidpolder was then level with the neighboring polder Katwoude and the use of a mill was not yet necessary.

Records from 1678 speak clearly of the existence of a water miller, so the mill's year of construction, goes towards 1670. In the period between 1864 and 1894, the mill was equiped with a mortar. In 1875 the drainage of the polder was reinforced with a steam screw pumping station. In 1949 of the station capacity was increased, so the windmill was put out of order.

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.