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Autumn, winter, summer and spring. It does not matter when you visit the Amsterdam Flower Market, as there is always, without fail, a true festival of colours, textures and fragrances.
The market is on the Singel canal, one of the city’s oldest, on the remaining stretch between the squares of Muntplein and Koningsplein.
The Dutch passion for plants and flowers dates back centuries. It has been and still is a country that distributes a host of species throughout Europe, and even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the streets of Amsterdam were home to large flower markets.
When walking among the flower and plant stalls, you will not even notice that many of them are boats floating on the canal. This, in fact, is the truly unique feature of the Bloemenmarkt and is probably what makes it the country’s most famous market and one of the main tourist attractions.
The explanation can be found a couple of centuries ago when the market was established on the canal for the first time in 1862.
At that time, dozens of boats arrived each day from the horticultural areas on the outskirts of Amsterdam. These vessels, which were virtually gardens on the water, towed flowers and plants and moored in the canal, where they put their goods on sale.
If you think that the notion of the flower-laden boats approaching the banks of the canal is romantic, we do not recommend you sit and wait for them. Nowadays, many of the fresh flowers and plants are brought to the market each day by van from Aalsmeer.
A walk around the Bloemenmarkt is a very pleasant thing to do. While you are walking around, you will come across regular customers buying bunches of lilies, daffodils or tulips to decorate lounges that look onto the street, or hundreds of tourists taking photographs of this festival of colour.
Although the species you encounter will depend on the time of year you visit, you will nonetheless be surprised by such richness and variety.
You will be curious about the boxes that seem full of what look like piles of onions. They are nothing of the sort, however, and are many different kinds of tulip bulbs. The stall holders can advise you on planting times and on the care they need to bloom either in a large garden or a small pot.
Seeds of the rarest species such as hyacinths, delicate indoor cypresses, orchids, plants from faraway islands or thousands of tonnes traditional of Dutch tulips are just some of the products you can buy at the Bloemenmarkt. If you visit Amsterdam at Christmas, moreover, you will witness a genuine festival of green, when the public is offered thousands of different-sized and –coloured fir trees.
If you feel like buying tulips in Amsterdam, make sure you visit when they are in flower. If you did not think about that beforehand, however, and when you arrive you find that not a single tulip is on sale, do not worry, because you can buy a modern version in wood, available in all shops, as a pretty consolation prize.
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