Today we visited the weekly Kaasmarkt in Alkmaar, which is apparently the largest cheese market in the world! This cheese market was started in 1365 and since 1939 Alkmaar has been the only place in the Netherlands to maintain the cheese market in this traditional form. It is mainly done for tourists now and held from mid-April to mid-September on every Friday morning from 10:00 to 12:30 on the center square of town.
We left our home in Leiden at 8:00 and arrived in Alkmaar at 9:00. It was already extremely busy as we arrived in Alkmaar, with busloads of foreign tourists being dropped off just outside the historic center. The thousands of senior tourists were walking all over the road and this made driving into town very challenging. We could easily find a place though, as almost everyone there came by bus.
This picture shows the Waaggebouw (the weigh building with several huge scales inside) and the cheese museum:
The square is fenced off to prevent the mad tourists from walking in the way and from stealing the cheeses. We found a nice place right by the fence but it filled up pretty quickly. Here you can see Amy (right of center):
The cheese carriers wore funny hats. Here are two men from the ‘red team’:
There were some market stalls on the square (selling cheese, obviously) and here you can see how crowded it was. There were mostly German and French tourists but also many Americans. A woman with a microphone was speaking the whole time explaining what was going on. At the start of her talk she asked the audience how many Dutch people there were and literally only 2 people in the audience went “JAAAA!!”.
Nice facade of the Waaggebouw:
One of the ‘berries’ that they use to carry the cheeses on a scale:
Two carriers from the green team (there were no teams, really, I’m just making that up):
Happy cheese man:
These old men were doing the traditional ‘handjeklap’ (literally clapping hands) in which they are bidding against each other for the cheeses.
And this is me: