Holland literally blossoms every year in middle-spring and this is the start for planning a trip there if you are in love with flowers. In order to see some of the most beautiful vast fields of colourful tulips, you have to go some twenty kilometres southwest of Amsterdam, between Haarlem and Leiden. A jewel of the region, the Keukenhof Park exhibits millions of bulbs on an area of 32 hectares. As for the cities of Haarlem and Leiden, they are extraordinary places to visit and rediscover the atmosphere of the Dutch Golden Age. Truly enchanting!
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A French botanist is the source of the love story between the Netherlands and tulips. In 1594, a certain Charles de Lécluse, based in Leiden, introduced, via Vienna, this flower that was originally grown in Turkey. The thunderbolt was immediate: the Dutch, captivated by the bright colours of the tulip, were seized by a genuine “tulip mania”. The bulb trade become subject of frenzied speculation and in the early seventeenth century, a tulip was more expensive than a house! In 1637, the bubble bursts and the market collapses. However, the passion of the Dutch people for the tulip remained intact and the flower became the emblem of the country.
In spring, the sight of the fields of tulips is flamboyant and exudes an irresistible poetic atmosphere. The plains look like gigantic multi-coloured carpets with infinite shades. In short, they are genuine natural works of art! To admire the tulips at their best, you have to go in the triangle of “Bollenstreek” (bulb region), between Haarlem and Leiden, about twenty kilometres to the southwest of Amsterdam. Why here? Just because this is a place where flower bulbs thrive on the soil of clay.
The heart of the park Keukenhof in Lisse, Bollenstreek is the largest exhibition venue in the floral world and the mecca of contemporary tulip mania. For the last sixty years, the Keukenhof has been a showcase for Dutch producers and more than 90 species grow here. More than seven million bulbs are exposed to the marvelling eyes of some 800,000 visitors who visit the park every year between late March and mid-May. There are not only tulips at Keukenhof: daffodils, hyacinths, orchids, roses and lilies complete this picture of an idyllic nature. In the park, flower shows are presented in several exhibition pavilions where the public can admire the compositions produced by horticulturalists. Boat trips are available along the canals and you can actually sail through the tulip fields (7.5 € for 50 minutes). Those who prefer dry land will rent a bike to venture into the area.