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Tulip Mania

How Tulips Turned the World Upside Down!

23 September, 2023Reading time 1 minute

You have probably heard of the ‘Tulip Mania’. But what was it really?

The Tulip Mania is a fascinating era in 17th-century history during which a flower – our much loved tulip – became the centre of the world’s first economic bubble. This blog will explain the Tulip Mania. 

The first tulips in the Netherlands

The first tulip bulbs arrived in the Netherlands in 1563. The renowned botanist Carolus Clusius planted them in the Hortus Botanicus (botanical gardens) in Leiden, where the tulips became so popular that people broke in to steal the bulbs. This marked the unofficial (more or less criminal) start of tulip cultivation in the Netherlands. 

Tulip Mania

From 1600 onwards, tulips became the ultimate status symbol in the Netherlands (Chanel, who?) Rich merchants and regents spent their fortunes on planting their ornamental gardens. The most popular tulip was the Semper Augustus, which was exceptional due to its flared appearance, caused by the tulip virus (see illustration). The enormous hype caused Tulip Mania. There was huge demand for the few tulip bulbs for sale. In the year 1623, 1 tulip bulb cost as much as 6 annual salaries. At the height of Tulip Mania, around 1634, this had risen to 10,000 guilders. 

Which, adjusted for inflation to today’s prices, would amount to some 2.1 million euros. At the time, this was enough to buy a canalside property in Amsterdam, with a garden!
De tulpenmanie hoe de tulp de wereld op zijn kop zette 0002
The Semper Augustus tulip

Tulip Mania’s bubble bursts

Soon enough however, the bubble burst, leaving many speculators destitute. Today’s Bitcoin is sometimes compared to the tulip trade of yesteryear. Economists view Tulip Mania as the world’s first economic bubble. However, tulips remained popular despite the economic crash. The first growers started working in Haarlem, and around 1700 bulb cultivation was flourishing in what is now the Bollenstreek or Flower Growing Region. And this is how tulips survived Tulip Mania and developed into the Netherlands’ biggest icon! 

Experience them for yourself!

This is how our story about tulips ends, but your adventure has only just begun! Tulip Experience Amsterdam teaches you everything there is to know about the Tulip Mania and you can experience for yourself what it was like to be a 17th-century tulip trader. Enter the realistic, 17th-century setting created by artist Marcel van Baaren of ninetyninetulips and you can briefly feel caught up in the historical Tulip Mania! 

Would you like to know more about the tulip’s history? Tickets for our experience are on sale now!

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