Over the centuries the cheese market at the Jan van Nieuwenhuizen Square played an important chapter in the history of Edam. In the past the cheese market and the Prince Mauritspad were part of the water connection between the Achterhaven and the Matthijs Tinxgracht.
In 1622 the Bierkade was constructed here, where the brewers built their homes. Around 1680 they lowered the water and the cheese market, which was first held elsewhere in the city, moved to the new square. In the middle of the square is a beautiful compass card with yellow and purple cobblestones. ln Edam it is called ‘the star’. Untill 1922 cheese was traded here, directly from the farmer to the merchant. Center of this colorful spectacle were the cheese carrier who carried the spherical cheeses on wooden “berries” or stretchers.
De Kaaswaag dates back to 1778. The building is a permanent exhibition about making cheese. One can taste and buy cheese in De Kaaswaag. Unfortunately, there is no cheese farm in Edam anymore. Edam still does have a cheese-export company: Gestam. The industrialization of the making of cheese put an end to this market trading. Especially for the touriststhis ancient tradition was reinstated.
To give you an the idea about cheese production: in 1649 they traded in Edam +/- 250,000 cheeses. Today The Netherlands produce 27 million Edam cheeses. In the house next to de Kaaswaag the cafe ‘East Indies’ used to be located where one could toast to the good outcome of a favorable market trading.