Provence has its lavender fields, Holland has its colorful tulips!
Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire, tulips were imported into the Netherlands in the 16th century. In 1592 Carolus Clusius ( a Flemish doctor, botanist, perhaps the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists) wrote a book about tulips. The flower become so popular that bulbs were regularly stolen from his garden (and many others!).
With the Dutch Golden Age, the love for those beautiful flowers kept growing. Tulips became popular in paintings and festivals.
During the mid-17th century, tulips were so trendy, they were the origin of the first economic bubble, known as the “Tulip Mania”. The bulbs were so expensive that they were frequently used as money until the market crashed.
Since then, tulips have been one of the main symbols of Holland, together with the windmills.
Why do tulips flourish in Holland?
The Holland weather is particularly suited to tulip growing: springs are cool, which allows the flower to bloom at its own rhythm. The polders, when well drained, form the perfect soil for their growth.
Nowadays there are so many types of tulips, the Dutch Horticultural Society divided them into groups, with different species within.
From mid-March to the end of May tulips transform the Holland countryside in a colorful patchwork!
In Leiden, at the Hortus Botanicus, the botanical garden of the Leiden University, you can even see the place where the first bulb was planted in 1594. In 2009, the garden was restored to its original state. This charming city, with its channels and typical houses, hosts the first University of the country, reminding of the Dutch Golden Age. The city is also the birthplace of Rembrandt!
Open from March 24 to May 16, Keukenhof is the place to be for tulips and flowers lovers.
More than 7 million bulbs are in bloom each year with 800 varieties of tulips, over 32 hectares!
Besides the endless flowers sweep, you will also enjoy spectacular flower shows, inspirational gardens, great events and unique artwork.
Holland, or the Netherlands as it is officially known, is a very bicycle-friendly country. The way that cycling is included in the traffic systems, the generally small scale of everything and the flat terrain all contribute greatly to providing the perfect conditions for a stress-free tour!
You can experience those amazing views during our Amsterdam to Bruges trip.
From April to the first week of May, this tour will leave from Haarlem (instead of Abcoude) in order to admire and ride through the innumerable tulips fields between Haarlem and Leiden!