Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), tulips were imported into Holland in the sixteenth century. When Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book on tulips in 1592, they became so popular that his garden was raided and bulbs stolen on a regular basis. As the Dutch Golden Age grew, so did this curvaceous and colorful flower. They became popular in paintings and festivals. In the mid-seventeenth century, tulips were so popular that they created the first economic bubble, known as "Tulip Mania" (tulipomania). As people bought up bulbs they became so expensive that they were used as money until the market in them crashed.
Tulips home and abroad
Today, Holland is still known for its tulips and other flowers, often being affectionately called the "flower shop of the world." Tulips are cultivated in great fields of beautiful color, and tulip festivals abound throughout the country in the spring. The Dutch people took their love of tulips abroad when they settled, and tulips and tulip festivals are now found in New York (originally New Amsterdam) and Holland, Michigan, where the connection to their Dutch roots is very strong.
Roam amongst the tulips
In the Kop van Noord-Holland, you will find millions of tulips, hyacinths and other flowers, which transform the landscape into a sea of different colors. Each year, the Tulip Festival is organized in the Noordoostpolder. Held in the middle of the tulip fields, this flower festival runs from late April to early May. Flower markets and gardens abound, Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam, houses the world's biggest flower auction, which is really something to see.
To just wander the gardens, be sure to visit Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world. It's located just south of Haarlem and you'll probably recognize it (if you’ve ever seen picture of a field of tulips, it’s probably Keukenhof). Festivals are often included in travel packages and group tours, and most of the gardens are located on public transportation routes for easy access.