Surroundings of Oudewater
Oudewater, a historic Dutch town set in beautiful surroundings
The historic town of Oudewater can be found right in the heart of the splendid Lopikerwaard polder, in the peaceful, rural setting of the Groene Hart peat meadow area. The varied scenery is cut up by two winding rivers: Lange Linschoten and Hollandse IJssel. Oudewater serves as an ideal mooring place along these rivers. The outdoors are characterised by lots of nature, rural beauty and cultural history. Ruige Weide, Hekendorpse Buurt and the many lush embankments are a treat for nature enthusiasts.
Oudewater is the oldest town in the Groene Hart peat meadow area in the Netherlands. It was granted its town privileges in 1265. Oudewater is traditionally known for its rope industry, the stork on the Town Hall, its Witch’s stool and the many monuments. Oudewater developed from an old fortified town in the past into the lively commuter town it is today. During the witch hunt period (1450 – 1750) in Europe, approximately 50,000 people (mostly women) were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to often appalling deaths, but not so in Oudewater. Here, they would first weigh you in the “Witch’s stool” to establish that you were of normal weight, so you couldn’t possibly be a witch.
People are believed to have been coming to Oudewater from as early as the 16th century, simply as a matter of survival. Hence the inhabitants of Oudewater can be justifiably proud of their town, where not a single soul was ever declared a witch, saving many lives in the process. People are still being weighed on the historic scales dating from 1482. You can even check your own weight to make sure you are not a witch and obtain a clearance certificate!
The neighbouring city of Gouda offers a wide variety of entertainment and sights. Say Gouda and you think of cheese, clay pipes, treacle waffles and earthenware, as well as stained glass, a picturesque town hall and attractive canals. Gouda is a true Old Dutch city with its city centre practically still intact. The Gouda Tourist Information Centre has set out a city tour along the various monument in Gouda. Other sights include visits to the Weigh House and the Cheese Museum.
Previously a fortified city, today the fourth cheese city of the Netherlands. City walls, canals and the Castle are tangible reminders of battles for the city, as it was located on the exact provincial border between Holland and Utrecht. Today this is a very peaceful town. For over a century, farmers have been selling their delicious, traditional cheeses here on Wednesday mornings, both during summer and winter.