Dutch bulbs, including tulips and daffodils, are exported world over, so it’s assumed that they originated from there. The truth is different.
Tulips in Turkey
A large variety of tulips were cultivated in Turkey during the Ottoman empire and they played an interesting role in Turkish history. Under the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1718-1730), tulips became an important element in art, folklore and daily life. This period is referred to as the “Tulip Era.” In recent times, the Tulip Festival held in Istanbul during the month of April, attracts hoards of visitors each year.
Tulip Fever in Holland
In the 17th century, the beauty and popularity of tulips led to a period of “Tulipmania” in Holland. The affluent citizens viewed them as symbols of wealth and prosperity. Tulips adorned the gardens of the emperors, members of the aristocracy and the archbishops.
The rapid spread of tulip bulbs in Holland can be attributed to Charles de L’Ecluse, author of the first major work on tulips (1592). He was a part of the medical faculty of the University of Leiden (Holland), and planted both a teaching garden and his own private one, from which between 1596 and 1598 hundreds of bulbs got stolen.
The inflated prices paid for certain bulbs led to increased trade, and soon enough the Dutch people became obsessed with these flowers. Those who couldn’t afford them depicted them in art, furniture and embroidery.
-Travel Secret #278: TS Writer Tanya Anand