Gouda is situated in the green, flat, waterlogged heartland of the province of South Holland, situated midway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, a 40 minute ride from Amsterdam (my car takes you right there and would seat 3 to 4 adults).
In the Golden Age and in the 18th century Gouda became the central hub of inland tow barge and freight shipping on the many canals and rivers in between Dutch cities. At the outskirts one may still admire the Goudse river, and the Hollandse IJssel river and it is mind boggling and scary to see that their water tables rise many meters above the surrounding landscape of green pastures. (In other countries, water naturally tends to flow downwards because of gravitational forces. Apparently not so in Holland).
Gouda was also famous for its minor industries. White clay pipe industry linked with in with tobacco which was smoked by the Dutch during many centuries. Millions of these long stem pipes were produced. These pipes were the first mass produced objects with a very short life because of their designed brittle quality, so that replacing them would become a perfectly straightforward thing. It was perhaps not until the invention of the light bulb that this other disposable consumer good came on the market, also bought by the millions. Another successful local industries were cheese making (Gouda cheese), syrup cookies and pottery.
The true claim to fame in Gouda is the glorious St Jan church which boasts the best quality and quantity of stained glass windows in the Netherlands. Closed Sundays. The design drawings were made by the Crabeth brothers.Gouda cheese and other commodities had to be weighed here by law from 1669 onwards. In order to be sure of the expressive visual quality of this building the city fathers had a full scale mockup built before giving the final OK for the construction of the final building. Nowadays the building houses the small cheese museum.
As an art historian based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I can meet you in Gouda for a personalized guided tour of art museums and the historic center. Together we will experience the beauty and history. Enjoy yourself and learn about history while strolling and discussing the country's history, art and culture. In doing so, we may touch many bases - spanning not only fine art and architecture but also the city's history and current social issues.
Drs. Kaldenbach is chairman of the Circle of Academic Tour Guides of the Netherlands and Flanders (CATON). Starting at your hotel I will take you on a wonderful private cultural walking tour of your choice. My guided itinerary offers you accessible informative conversation in English, Dutch, or German (my French and Italian are more limited).
Generally for small groups. Contact me for information on higher amounts with other venues and more people. Larger groups by train (extra ticket cost). Not on Sundays.
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