Edam Things to Do

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    The Speeltoren

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013
    The Speeltoren

    The 15th century Speeltoren is the reason for the beautiful carillon sounds you can hear in Edam every few minutes. It's all that remains of the Kleine Kerk (Small Church) which was demolished in the late 19th century. The Speeltoren has a bell set of 19 bells, a few of these dating back to the 16th century. After many years out of use, the original "speeltrommel", the device which makes the carillon bells chime, has been reactivated in 1999, so that the sounds you now hear is probably very similar to that of the olden days. Apart from that, the Speeltoren is also a nice part of Edam's "skyline", it's slightly aslant tower being visible from nearly everywhere in the small town.

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    Drawbridges

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013
    Kwakelbrug Bridge

    Edam is the town of drawbridges - they are literally everywhere! A particularly picturesque one is the Kwakelbrug bridge which connects Lingerzijde and Doelland, but there are plenty of others which will make your stay in Edam worthwhile. Apparently these bridges are still in use despite the fact that some are chained to the ground so as no one can easily lift them.

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    The Voorhaven Canal and other Canals

    by King_Golo Written Mar 31, 2013
    Strolling along Voorhaven

    If you were in Edam for only 30 minutes, this is where you should go. A stroll along the centrally located Voorhaven Canal gives you an impression of both picturesque houses and a lovely canal shaded by lots of trees. The logical starting point for your stroll would be the Damplein, the town's main square with a humpbacked bridge that looks rather deformed. You could either come back the same way or walk to the end of Voorhaven and turn right in order to walk back on Nieuwehaven, the next canalside.
    Similarly picturesque is J.C. Brouwersgracht. When you've crossed the little drawbridge near the cheese market, walk to the right until you reach the open fields. Cross the beautiful canal again at the Grote Kerk (the slightly oversized church, apparently the largest three-ridged church in Europe) and walk back on the other side.
    Lots of ships are normally anchored in Nieuwehaven, which also makes for a nice walk. Despite the fact that Edam feels like a place in the countryside, it's less than a kilometre away from the huge Ijsselmeer which is popular sailing territory.

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    Have a sit-down

    by goodfish Updated Jan 14, 2012

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    All our walking about worked up a mighty thirst. Where to go? The terrace attached to Hotel De Fortuna is about as good as it gets. This sunny spot is right beside a pretty canal and surrounded by flowers. It's also less than spittin' distance from Constabelbrug: a small drawbridge that must be hand-operated to allow canal traffic through to inland waterways. It's a pretty busy route and we had fun watching the tender run back and forth placing barriers, cranking the apparatus that raises/lowers the bridge, and waving at the boaters.

    The hotel and restaurant are both getting good reviews on Trip Advisor - although small rooms with strange layouts seem to be a common complaint - but the location and gorgeous terrace make it one great spot for even day-trippers to rest their heels and rehydrate. If nothing else, stop by for some photo-ops.

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    Zuidpoldermolen

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    Think "Holland" and windmills come to mind. Edam has a very fine specimen that dates between 1626-35 that was used to grind grain and drain a polder: low land that has been reclaimed from the sea and diked. The low, octagonal design categorizes it as a smock style, and the name translates to "south polder mill." The wind-driven mechanics have been out of operation since 1949, and it was closed to visitors when we were by so I wasn't able to learn much more about it but you can get a rough overview here.

    From Dam Square: head east along Voorhaven, and then south (right) across 1 or 2 bridges on Oosterkade, west (right) on Burgemeester Versteeghsingel, and south (left) on the bike path along Broekgouwstraat. The Jewish cemetery (see previous tip) is also in this area.

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    Kaasmarkt (Cheese Market)

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    That cheese that made Edam famous is no longer made in town but you can see where it was once brought to market from farms around the area. Merchants sampled plugs of the product drilled from new batches, haggled over the price, and their purchase was weighed and carried away to their boats or wagons on curved hand-barrows. On summer Wednesdays (July/Aug - 10:30-12:30) they hold costumed reenactments of the market, and you can sample a bit at the old weigh house (kaaswaag) on the square.

    Americans know it by the distinctive red wax coating but this is only used for product exported from the Netherlands: Edam meant to be consumed locally is either waxless or dipped in yellow or black, the latter having been aged for at least 17 weeks. It achieved popularity for its longevity: cheese that, when coated, wouldn't spoil on long voyages was prized in this country of seafarers.

    My main page shot was taken of the canal at the north end of the square.

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    Jewish Cemetery

    by goodfish Written Jan 13, 2012

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    Edam was home to a small Jewish community in the 18th and 19th centuries but a decline in their numbers during the late 1800's closed the school and synagogue and the group merged with another in Monnickendam - which in turn merged with Amsterdam after WWII. There is a small Jewish cemetery dating to 1793 with a memorial to Edam's citizens who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

    You can find the cemetery east of Dam Square at the corner of Voorhaven/Zeiderzee Route and Oosterkade/Oorgat. Pietersbrug (bridge) is near that corner, and a wide place in the canal with some nice boats.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): Exterior

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    Little Edam has the distinction of having one of the largest churches in all the Netherlands. Like so many others in a country whose history is linked to the sea, it is named for the patron saint of sailors: St Nicholas. And like so many others of the oldest churches, it was originally Catholic. It seems odd to have such an enormous church in such a small village but the population of the town was much larger during its heyday as a busy port.

    Parts of this one date to the 15th century but the structure was extensively damaged and rebuilt after fires in 1602 and 1699, and the curiously squat spire on top of the tower was much higher than it is now. The cemetery on the north/east side, established during the French occupation and Napoleon's ban against inner-church burials, has a few nice monuments. In niches on the south side are a few weirdly unrelated pieces of statuary that I wasn't able to find out anything about, and some bricked-in tracery where windows must have been.

    The church is free and open to visitors 7 days a week from around the 1st of April - 1st of October, 1:30 - 5:00 PM. See my next review for some interesting details about the interior.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): Interior

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    (See previous review of the exterior)

    I found the feel of St. Nicholas' interior to be very similar to Oude Kerk in Amsterdam: large, empty space; ornate organ, wooden ceiling and choir screen; huge brass chandeliers. In pre-Alteration days when it was a Catholic church, those big empty spaces were probably ornamented with statuary, murals, altars and icons of all sorts that were stripped away to suit no-nonsense Calvinist sensibilities.

    The little gift corner near the front sells a booklet (2 euro) that's nice to have for a self-tour of the church. It concentrates heavily on the stained glass windows: dating from the early 1600's post-reformation period and illustrating important events/icons of the Dutch republic versus religious themes. Mounted on some of the columns in the nave are some interesting shields that were once carried in the funeral processions of more illustrious citizens, and an elaborate pulpit commands a spot in the center - as is customary in Dutch protestant churches - versus the east end.

    The floor is wall-to-wall with tombs dating back many centuries and were particularly fascinating: will cover those in the next review.

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    St. Nicolaaskerk (Grote Kerk): tombs

    by goodfish Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    (See previous review of church's interior)

    Under your feet in St Nicholas are the remains of several hundred years worth of Edam's citizens: thousands of grey stones, some elaborately craved and others blank, pave the floor from entrance to apse. Before the French occupation, it was fashionable for a person of means to be entombed in their parish church but a host of political and unpleasant hygienic issues had Napoleon banning burials inside houses of worship so after the early 1800's the deceased were interred in newly established cemeteries.

    You'll notice that some of the slabs are the length of a person and some are smaller squares. The long ones - sometimes elaborately carved - were more expensive than buying three smaller squares to cover the same amount of space so that person was probably wealthy: I have a side-by-side example in photo 2. You'll see names, dates and obituaries on some and just odd little symbols on others (photos 3 and 4)? Those symbols, handmarks, acted as identifiers for individuals or families at a time when many people couldn't read. Scratched on paper, they were your signature; carved into your front door, it was your house number.

    It was, of course, also cheaper to just engrave one small slab than the length of a large one so that explains the majority that are blank but some had heraldic markings destroyed during the Napoleonic years and still others have simply worn away. Rembrandt's rumored mistress, Grietje Dircks, may be buried under the stone marked "Griet Dircks" but there's no record of the event.

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    A song in the air

    by goodfish Written Jan 11, 2012

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    The church that this tower (Speeltoren) was once attached to is long gone but the bells still tinkle out a song every 15 minutes. The structure dates from the 15th/16th century, and its bells from 1566. They are operated electronically except for special events when a carillonneur will play its interesting keyboard arrangement of wooden levers by hand. Unlike church bells which are swung against clappers, a carillon's bells remain in place and wires attached to the levers move the clappers against the side of bell instead. The Netherlands is famous for carillons, having more of them than any other country in the world!

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    Shipbuilder's Dike

    by goodfish Updated Jan 11, 2012

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    Schepenmakersdijk, the route we took to-and-from the bus stop, parallels a pretty canal lined with beautiful homes and lovely gardens. The two nearest little Kwakel bridge - where you want to turn left to the Carillon or Dam Square - were Mayor's houses and each has a charming little teahouse perched on the edge of the water.

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    Damplein (Dam Square)

    by goodfish Updated Jan 11, 2012

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    This is the heart of Edam, and the big hump you'll see spanning the canal was once a dam with locks controlling inland water levels. Those have been gone since 1829 and the construction of larger sea locks but the overarching structure of the damsluis remains. The square itself dates to 1624 and around the perimeter are several historic buildings of interest:

    Photo 2: The Town Hall (Staduis): a bit of French among the more traditional Dutch architecture, the hall was built in 1737 and displays the symmetry, central focus and large windows of Louis XIV styling. The Magistrate's court was here and still utilized as a place for young couples to say their "I do's." On the front on the building is an iron pillory and neck ring once used for securing naughty folks. The hall houses the village's tourism center and it's here that you can pick up your copy of "A Stroll through Edam."

    Photo 3: This former post office (voormalig postkantoor) was designed by architect Cornelis Peters, who also designed the old Central Post Office (now Magna shopping mart) in Amsterdam. This one echoes some of that larger structure's neo-Renaisaance styling.

    Photo 4: This former merchant's residence is the oldest brick house in town (1530-40) and has an interesting floating cellar that could rise and fall with ground water levels. It was restored around the turn of the century by architect Pierre Cuypers of Amsterdam's Centraal Station and Rijksmuseum fame, and is now a museum.

    Photo 5: Top of the former damsluis and some of the buildings around the square. My main photo is also of the damsluis.

    There are some little shops to browse along both sides of the canal as well, and the outdoor terrace of L'Auberge Damhotel for an expensive but nice lunch or a beverage right across from the Town Hall.

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    A stroll through Edam

    by goodfish Updated Jan 9, 2012

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    The #1 thing to do in Edam is explore - and they make this easy with an inexpensive booklet entitled "A Stroll through Edam" (2.50 euro at time of this writing) which may be purchased at the tourism office in the town hall located in Dam Square. Starting at the square, the walk provides fun history and architectural lessons as it guides you about the old, beautifully preserved heart of the original town. I'll cover some of the more interesting things we saw along the way in separate reviews. With a visit to the church, the walk should take about 2 and 1/2 hours.

    The tourism office doesn't open until 10:00 AM (closed on Sundays) so if you arrive early, go have coffee and a sweet at the bakery while you wait or use the time to play with your camera: there is plenty to point a lens at! Guided walking tours are also available through the office: you can find info on them here.

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    Cheese and Chocolates

    by Martin_S. Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Cheese, cheese market and chocolates....these would be the main things that would draw me back for a repeat visit to Edam. We missed the market day, but it is actually a "show" today, put on only for tourists, still it would be interesting to see.
    http://www.vvv-edam.nl/uk/index.html

    You can see in the first picture the "stretcher" for carrying cheese, then the cheese market itself, then the final product displayed in a outlet store in town. And the last picture shows some of the chocolates found there, what better way to end a fine meal of cheese with a sweet dessert of chocolate.

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