Waag (Weighhouse), Delft
Located at the center of many Low Country medieval cities, weigh houses were buildings for public control of the weight of goods, both for the safety of the principals in a transaction and also for establishing appropriate taxes. Elsewhere in Europe, this function took place in town or guild halls. Weigh houses were also used in the 16th and 17th C to weigh the accused versus a set weight - guilty if the accused was too light.
Constructed in 1616 and reconstructed in the 18thC, the weigh house of Delft was also home to guilds devoted to precious metals. It was in use till 1960, used in the later years for weighing cheese. It is said to be a cafe today, but closed up tight on our visit.
Traders had to let anything heavier then 10 kilo's being wieghted by the weighing house. This provided the city with income of the weighing taxes.
There original scale is still here in the building and it dates back to 1647.
People in 17th sencery had VAT taxes, too..
The "Waag" is a building that is present in most historical town within the Netherlands (and also other European regions). The building was often placed on or near the "Markt" (market square) as it's function was to weigh and administrate goods, products and transactions that needed extra official acknowledgement. Disputes were solved here and certifications (first of all, in weight) were given out. In Delft the "Waag" (Weigh House) was built in 1614 and reconstructed in 1770. On the first floor the gold and silver smiths found their guildhouse. It kept it's weighing function even until 1960, when as last product a load of cheese was checked ! After that a group of students slowly realised their wish to turn this monumental building into a town cafe with theatre function, which finally in 1995 was done. Town Cafe "De Waag" and Theatre "De Veste" attract their own public successfully since then.
The right to have a weighing house was one of the first city rigts that Delft got. It was a very important right because traders were obliged to let anything heavier then 10 kilo's being wieghted by the weighing house. And that generated traffic but also provided the city with income of the weighing tax.
The weighing was done on the ground floor. The upper floors have been used for many purposes.
There original scale is still present in the building and dates back to 1647. The last weighing that happened on this scale was in 1960 with a lot of cheese.
After 1960 the building was in use as a theater but since 1999 it is a cafe-restaurant
The building in the middle had an old plaque saying it was a center for apothecaries (pharmacists).
You are actually looking at the back of the building. Now if you walk around to the front of this building (on the Markt) it turns out to be the weighhouse (Waag) where everything over 10 pounds was weighed. Conveniently situated on the water (wijnhaven = wineharbour) so that good could easily be transported in and out.
The first floor of the Waag was rented out to the silver and goldsmiths and to the apothecaries.
These days the ground floor of the Waag is a restaurant.
De Waag (the weighhouse) is abuilding situated behind the town hall. It was built in 1770 and now houses a café. Note the beautiful refurbished gable.