We hired bikes and rode out to north Holland to find some tulips… Dan filmed it, here’s the video:
Tulips are an integral part of Amsterdam life and history. We were lucky enough to see them in full bloom!
From mid-March to the end of May tulips transform large parts of Holland into a colorful patchwork. But the best time to see them is towards the end of April or beginning of May.
The history of tulips
So much so, that in the 17th century, people even remortgaged their house just to get hold of some.
Tulips originally came from the Ottoman Empire, and are indigenous to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of central Asia. The name ‘tulip’ literally means turban.
Tulips first gained popularity in Holland in the 1590s when Carolus Clusius, previously stationed in Vienna and near the Ottoman Empire, became the Head Botanist at the University of Leiden. Carolus planted the first tulip bulbs and the flower was immediately popular with the upper classes.
Becoming a status symbol
Tulips became a luxury item and a status symbol. In 1636, stock exchanges were established to trade in bulbs and their future options. Authorities tried to limit the craze, but the trade blossomed as people sold land, houses and valuable objects to invest in tulip bulbs, particularly the Semper Augustus and Viceroy variety. By 1635, a sale of 100,000 florins for 40 bulbs was recorded, which was ten times the average salary of a skilled labourer at the time.
Celebrating all things Tulips
In 1637 the market crashed, but the Dutch still love their tulips, celebrating National Tulip Day in January each year on Amsterdam’s Dam Square, and the Tulip Festival throughout the entire month of April. Visitors to the Tulip Festival marvel at a variety of colourful (and occasionally rare) tulips in the gardens of museums, private homes and institutions throughout the city.
Wake up and smell the Tulips
Visit to the Amsterdam Museum, in the Jordaan district, for a fascinating horticultural story of Holland.
Visit the Keukenhof, located in the “Flower Strip”, also known as bollenstreek, the bulb-growers region. You can catch a public bus from Schiphol Airport or book a bus tour.
Visit to the flower auction in Aalsmeer to witness the modern version of tulip auctions.
OR, go on your own adventure in North Holland
From Amsterdam Sloterdijk station we caught the “Intercity” train towards Den Helder from Platform 4 (€21.20 return + €6.00 Bicycle Day Ticket). We took our bikes and got off at Schagen station. From here we rode north west along a bicycle track towards the small town of Ana Paulowna. We ate a picnic in a tulip field with a windmill as a backdrop. The farmers driving past in their tractors didn’t seem to mind too much 🙂