Edam is a neat, toy-like city in the Dutch province of North Holland. Founded by fishermen in the 13th century and named after the Iy Dam, it quickly developed into a major shipbuilding center. But soon the shipyards were moved to Amsterdam, and since then it has been a compact, quiet and cozy version of the capital. The same gingerbread houses, winding canals, a sea of greenery and flowers – and much less tourist fuss. Here you can swim along the canals on a boat, go fishing on Lake Markermeer and enjoy the atmosphere of medieval Europe.
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Edam became world-famous with the cheese of the same name, produced here since the 14th century, so much so that in the 16th century King Charles V even ordered cheese fairs to be held here every week. A hundred years ago, the tradition was canceled, but every summer a cheese festival comes to the city with theatrical performances, auctions and tastings.
How to get to Edam
Between Amsterdam and Edam about 20 km. From Moscow to the capital of the Netherlands can be reached by plane, train or bus.
Buses 314 and 316 leave every half an hour from Amsterdam Central Station (Stationsplein, 9), reaching Edam in 30-40 minutes. A taxi ride (55–70 EUR) or a rented car on the N247 highway takes 20-25 minutes. The prices on the page are for August 2021.
There is no public transport in Edam, so you have to travel on foot, by taxi or by bike. Taxi can be called online or by phone, the standard rate in the city is 4–5 EUR. Bicycle rental costs from 2 EUR per hour. A special pleasure is a boat trip along the central canals, which lasts about an hour and costs 25 EUR.
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Tourists are welcomed by family hotels opened in old mansions, bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the canals and cozy guest houses on the outskirts. Double rooms with amenities cost from 95 EUR per day.
Cuisine and restaurants of Edam
Cheese, of course, is the head of everything: the famous “edam” with a nutty flavor and subtle aroma is sold at every step, and you can taste it before buying it. The main competitor is Gouda, which is softer and creamier in texture.
Ossenvorst sausage is made from raw ground beef: in the heyday of the colonial empire, expensive preservatives from Indonesia were added to it, but now there are fewer spices, and the dish resembles smoked tartare. You should also try the Bitterballen deep-fried beef balls, Olibol donuts and apple tart with raisins, currants, lemon juice and cinnamon.
In Edam, there are restaurants with a traditional Dutch menu and fresh seafood, pizzerias, gastrobars, establishments with French, American and Asian cuisine, gelaterias, coffee houses, eateries and pubs.
Lunch in a cafe costs 15-20 EUR per person, dinner in a restaurant – from 40-50 EUR without alcohol.
Entertainment and attractions
The architectural sights of Edam are concentrated in the historical center. The oldest square is Dam, which, unlike the capital square, has been preserved in its original form. The Humpback Bridge adjoins it, under which there was once a dam: in shape it resembles a ship with a bow and stern with coats of arms.
The large church of St. Nicholas, built in the 15th century in the northwest, is included in the top 100 best national monuments of the Netherlands: the area of skillful stained-glass windows alone is more than 550 square meters. m. In the current temple there is a cafe, a second-hand bookstore and an exhibition of modern art (there are even nude portraits), from the bell tower the whole city is at a glance. The second most popular observation deck is the Kwakelbrug drawbridge.
The elegant 18th century town hall is impressive both outside and inside: antique furniture, fireplaces, elegant staircases and murals inspired by mythical and biblical scenes are everywhere. Weddings are still held in the courtroom to this day, and in the gallery there is a portrait of a local native Treintier Keever, the tallest girl in the history of mankind, about 255 cm tall.
On the square where the legendary cheese festival takes place in July and August, the Chamber of Weights was built in 1778, decorated with flags, panels with the city’s coat of arms (a bull on a red background surrounded by stars) and paintings depicting the weighing of cheeses. This is both a shop and a mini-museum with handicraft tools of cheesemakers.
The oldest wooden house in the Netherlands, dating from 1550, is located at 105 Achterhaven. The wings of the windmill have been spinning non-stop since the 17th century. One of the highest points in the city is the Late Gothic Playing Tower with a bell tower, a sky-blue spire and the oldest clockwork in the country: a carillon chime sounds over the roofs every 15 minutes.
The Museum of Edam (off. site in English) in the building of the 16th century introduces the history, culture and traditions of the region, the life of merchants and artisans, achievements in shipbuilding and cheese making.
Among the exhibits, the “floating basement” is noteworthy: ordinary cellars in the Netherlands are flooded, so the locals came up with waterproofed cubes that rise and fall with the water level. According to another version, the owner of the house was a retired sailor and missed the waves. One way or another, visitors can stand inside and feel all the delights of pitching.
Not far from the city shines Lake Markermeer, where it is pleasant to ride a yacht and catch pike, tench, bream, pike perch and three-spined stickleback. Another nearby attraction is Fort Edam, part of the 135-kilometer-long fortifications of the 19th and 20th centuries. With the help of a cunning system of locks, the land around Amsterdam was flooded: for such an unusual invention, UNESCO entered the Defense Line on the List of World Heritage Sites.