Inextricably linked to Alkmaar: the Cheese Market. The cheese market first took place in 1622. However, cheeses have been weighed in Alkmaar since 1365. In bygone days the cheeses were transported by boat through the canal, nowadays they use trucks.
As from 7 o’clock the cheeses are brought to the market. At 10 o’clock it is time for the cheese inspectors; they drill a piece out of some cheeses with a hollow drill which is then touched, smelled and tasted in order to determine the quality of the cheese. The price is set by means of clapping hands and once the deal is sealed, the cheese carriers take the shipment of cheese to the Weighing House on their barrows to be weighed.
The cheese carriers all belong to a specific warehousing company; there is, for example, the red, green, yellow and blue warehousing company, recognisable by the colour of the barrow and straw hat of the cheese carrier. The cheese carrier guild still complies with the old traditions. For example, the leader, recognisable by his orange hat, is called ‘pops’ by all the cheese carriers. The cheese carriers have nicknames: the cheese carrier with the nickname ‘the Executioner’ precisely keeps track of the cheese carriers who are late; after which they are fined. It is also prohibited to curse. It could, of course, happen that cheeses fall of the barrow when running but instead of cursing the cheese carriers then cry out: Oaf!
Meanwhile Alkmaar is worldwide renowned as the cheese city and about 100,000 visitors per season from all over the world know where to find the cheese market. The market is held every Friday morning from 10 to 12:30 o’clock as from the first Friday in April up to and including the first Friday in September.