You can never go wrong with flowers and tulip is one terrific bloom. Known for its captivating beauty and tumultuous history, tulip is synonymous with Holland. This tiny European nation, which is also fondly referred to as “The Flower Shop of the World”, dominates the global tulip industry and it exports 4.3 billion bulbs annually. Holland takes it’s tulips seriously and every year, the country cultivates bedazzling new varieties. At present, nearly 2,000 varieties of tulips are cultivated and this showy perennial flower of the lily family even has auctions dedicated to it. Every day large bales of tulips along with other blooms are sorted, sold and shipped out from the Bloemenmarkt on the Singel in Amsterdam and the world‘s largest flower auction is held in Aalsmeer, near Schipol.
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Today, Holland is the uncrowned tulip capital of the world, and this is one well traveled flower. It is believed that the tulip has traveled from the western Himalayas to Persia, China and Turkey, where it became the darling of the Ottoman Empire. In the 16th century with the increased trade between the Dutch and the Ottoman Empire, the tulip left Constantinople to travel to Holland. There, it immediately caught fancy of the elite and soon Holland experienced a full fledged tulip craze. With the ever growing popularity, tulip production soon got outstripped by the demand and people started using the bulbs as currency. Black-marketing and speculation of the precious bulbs became rampant and by mid 17th century, Holland buckled under, what is historically termed, as the Tulip Mania. Interestingly, it was the world‘s first recorded economic bubble and at that time a single tulip bulb cost 10 times more than a craftsman annual income. But like all bubbles, the Tulip Mania too went freewheeling downhill soon and the market crashed in 1637.
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With such tantalising heritage and seductive beauty, it is difficult to resist the tulips, especially when you live quite close to Holland. My hometown of Cologne, is around 300 kilometres from the famed Tulip Region of Holland and on the last weekend, we gave into some major tulip trail. Taking advantage of a clear spring day, we headed towards Lisse and at late noon arrived at Keukenhof. The famous garden was super crowded and every hour brought more bus loads of tourists from Belgium, France and Germany. A major tourist attraction and one of the most sought after items on a travel bucket list, Keukenhof is the world‘s largest flower garden. Set in bollenstreek (Holland’s Flower Strip or the bulb growing region) in Lisse, Keukenhof literally means the “kitchen garden”. It‘s history goes back to the 15th century, when the domestic staff of Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria foraged in it for herbs, fruits and nuts for use in the kitchen at Teylingen Castle. The Keukenhof Castle, was built much later in 1641 and it’s gardens were redesigned in 1857, thus laying the foundation of the stunning seasonal display that draws over 800,000 visitors each year.
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Created for the purpose of presenting an annual floral exhibition where planters from all over Holland and rest of Europe, could exhibit their hybrid tulips, Keukenhof is much more than tulips. Showcasing hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, lilies and other spring flowers, the garden is a real floral paradise. It is also one of Europe‘s top tourist attractions and the 32 hectares park plants 7 million bulbs each year. Though open for only two months in a year, Keukenhof is Holland‘s most visited destination and it attracts over a million visitors annually.
Presenting a photo gallery of beautiful images, for those who want to enjoy Keukenhof minus the hassle of travel. Warning – This will give you serious travel lust.
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RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE