Gouda (pronunciation (info / explanation)) is a city and municipality in the east of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands with 74,165 inhabitants (January 31, 2022, source: CBS) on a territory of 16.92 km².
The city is located in Central Holland and in the urban area of the Randstad, roughly equidistant from Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Gouda has a regional function within the Green Heart, where it is the largest city in terms of inhabitants and the second largest municipality (after Alphen aan den Rijn). Measured by population, it is the 48th municipality in the Netherlands and the 12th municipality in South Holland.
Gouda is located at the confluence of the Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel rivers. Thanks in part to inland navigation on these rivers, Gouda grew into an important city in the Middle Ages. In 1272 the city received city rights and by the end of the Middle Ages Gouda had grown into the fifth city of Holland. A large number of historic and monumental buildings can still be found in the city center, of which the City Hall and St. John's Church are probably the most famous. The city is also known for its Gouda cheese, which is traded on the Thursday tourist cheese market in the summer. Finally, Gouda is known for the manufacture of beer, candles, pipes, Gouda pottery, stroopwafels and the annual Candles Evening.
Gouda has long been referred to by other names such as Golde, Die Goude, Ter Goude and Tergouw, all referring to the river Gouwe. De Gouwe was first mentioned in a charter in 1139, under the Latin name Golda. This spoke of 'new reclamations on the Gouwe': nove culture juxta Goldam. A charter from 1178 speaks of terram quandam juxta Goldam, 'certain land on the Gouwe'.
There are various theories about the origin of the name Gouwe, but none of them are conclusive. The name could be derived from the common name 'gouw(e)' for a river with a road running alongside it. According to another theory, the name refers to the golden glow that the water of the Gouwe, once a peat stream, had. 'Golda' could have originated from the Germanic 'gulda' (gold) + 'ahwõ' (natural watercourse in marine clay area). This glow was then caused by the peat visible through the clear water.
In the Middle Ages, the usual name Golde was transformed into Goude or Ter Goude. In medieval Latin texts, the name was written as Gouda, meaning both the river and the city. Thanks in part to humanists and historiography, the Latin name eventually succeeded in replacing the name form 'Ter Goude', which was still in use for a long time. Today, Gouda is the only city in the Netherlands that is both officially and popularly referred to by the Latin name form. Despite the large number of products strongly associated with Gouda, the city does not have a well-known nickname. Sometimes people talk about the Cheese City, referring to the Gouda cheese, but this nickname is not only reserved for Gouda. Another nickname is the Gouwestad, after the river to which Gouda owes its name and existence. This name is also reflected in the name of the local television channel RTV Gouwestad. Waddinxveen, which is located northwest of Gouda and also along the Gouwe, is sometimes referred to as the Gouwedorp.
Gouwenaars are also called Kaaskoppen, a nickname that is also used for Alkmaarders and the Dutch in general. This name may have originated in Stolwijk and would not have been derived from the cheese itself, but from cheese vats manufactured by so-called head turners. During conflicts, these cheese vats were put on the head as helmets.
Around the year 1000, the area where Gouda is now located was swampy and covered with a swamp forest, containing small rivers, such as the Gouwe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, peat was reclaimed to the east and west