Edam has a rich and colourful history as a port and trade centre for cheese. The polder landscape surrounding the town, with its rich soil and salty sea wind, is very suitable for keeping cattle. This is partly why this region has excelled in cheese-making for centuries. Centuries ago cheese from this region was sold as far away as France and Spain. Today the CONO "Cheese makers since 1901 " dairy factory located in this area, produces cheese of superior quality the same way as in days of old. This cheese with its relatively low salt content and creamy texture is not just popular in the Netherlands, but in many other countries as weIl. The weIl-known round cheese sold at the cheese markets was already known in the 14th century and was shipped out of Edam - hence its title of Edam Cheese. In those days, a privilege had to be granted to hold a market. It was given to Edam in 1520 by Charles the Fifth of Habsburg. 50 Years later, Prince William of Orange was to grant the everlasting right of 'Cheese weighing house'.
The present weighing house was built in 1778 and cheese markets were always held until 1922. However, the appearance of cheese factories signaled the end of the farm cheese markets.
Tradition lives on in the modern day Edam cheese markets. Here you can see how the cheese is transported to the market by boat or by horse drawn cart, as it was in the olden days. At the market, the farmer has his cheese unloaded by special cheese carriers -in days gone by they were members of a special cheese bearers guild. The traders test the cheese by drilling holes in it and determine the quality and therefore the price on the basis of this sample. When a batch goes down well with the trader, the cheese bearers carry it on a handbarrow to the scales in the weighing house. The bargaining now begins, accompanied by the old ritual of clapping hands. After the sale, the batch of cheese is once again loaded up. The cheese markets where this all takes place are held under the watchfull eye of a market superintendent and a professional explanation is given.