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Gouda is a Gouwe River (Rhine River) cruise port and city in Netherlands ' South Holland province, with population around 73,000. The town is best-known worldwide for the Goudse kaas (Gouda cheese). The settlement was founded in the early-12th-century by the Van der Goude (noble Dutch family) and developed around their fortified family castle.
The marshland surrounding Gouda was developed into a town and by early 13th-century its canal (connecting to Oude Rijn / Old Rhine) was expanded into a harbor port. The town received its city status in 1272. Gouda Castle was built to protect the new port, which served the shipping route linking Holland with Flanders (Belgium) and France and via Belgium to Baltic Sea. In the 14th-century were dug smaller canals to serve the in-town transportation. The city suffered severe destructions in three major fires - in 1361, 1438 and 1572. Deadly plague epidemics further devastated the city in the years 1574, 1625, 1636 and 1673. In late-16th-century was dismantled the Gouda Castle. In late-19th-century were dismantled the city walls. Town's oldest remaining building is the 1551-founded De Zalm Inn.
Gouwe River is a historically important inland waterway in Holland, connecting Dordrecht with Haarlem and Amsterdam. Current-day city's economy is based on tourism, leisure, retail shopping, commercial and healthcare services, as well as the production of Gouda cheese, candles, smoking pipes, stroopwafels (caramel-syrup waffle made from two thin layers of dough with the syrup filling in the middle). In its past, the town had a well-developed linen brewery industries. However, the Gouda cheese is made not in the city but in the surrounding region.