For hundreds of years, the tulip has been one of the most-loved flowers in the Netherlands. An enduring icon, it’s as synonymous with the country as clogs, windmills and cheese. The tulip has a long and storied history - including the infamous shortage in the 17th century known as “tulip mania”. Tulips in Holland have remained a national icon since the Golden Age. Read on to learn about Holland’s tulip fields, and see how you too can take in the beauty of tulips in Amsterdam.
Tulips in Holland, a history
A typical Dutch icon, the origins of tulips in Holland actually began elsewhere. Bought to Holland in the 15th century from the Ottoman Empire – a vast area of land, which is now modern-day Turkey, much of southeast Europe and parts of Russia. The wet, low-lying conditions of the Netherlands made the perfect growing environment, and tulip gardens have been cultivated here ever since. 1 of the most famous parts of Dutch tulip history is surely “tulip mania”. Frequently depicted in the still-life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, tulips in Holland quickly reached iconic status. Due to the depth of their color, they were the preferred flower in Europe. As demand grew, the humble Dutch bulbs were being sold quickly for significant sums. At the peak of tulip mania, a single bulb could command more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman! It wasn’t long before the bubble burst, leading to what historians now refer to as the first economic bubble in recorded history. Another fascinating, yet much more sombre, part of the tulip’s history is set within the Hunger Winter (Hongerwinter) of 1944-45. Food supplies were severely restricted in many parts of German-occupied territory, which lead to widespread famine. Along with sugar beets, tulip bulbs were commonly consumed during this dark period of Dutch history.
Witness the beauty of tulips in Amsterdam
From March to May, you can witness many breathtaking spectacles of tulips in Holland. Dutch tulip fields surround the city, and many tulip gardens in Amsterdam burst into magnificent color come spring. Take a bike tour along a tulip route in the region from Haarlem to Leiden. If your interests are more economic, you can visit Royal Flora Holland, one of the largest auction houses in the world. Experience the hustle and bustle of the auction floor by sitting in on a flower auction, as buyers from all over the world bid for the tulips in Holland. If you’re visiting Amsterdam outside tulip season - fear not. Because painters like Johannes Vermeer immortalized the tulip in their now famous still-life paintings (during the Dutch Golden Age), the nation’s most iconic flower can be experienced throughout the year in the country’s museums. Along the picturesque Prinsengracht canal, you’ll find the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. Whether seen by bike, at an auction, or through the lens of a famous Dutch painter, the tulips in Holland are a sight for sore eyes.