TULIPS FROM AMSTERDAM
Marie Friedli and Sue Kliebenschädel
take us on a trip to Amsterdam and the world-famous tulip fields

May 13, 2011

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, with an urban population of 767,457 and a metropolitan population of 2,158,592. The city is in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of approximately 8.1 million according to larger estimates.

The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. In 2010, Amsterdam was ranked 13th globally on quality of living by Mercer, and previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2nd in know in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.

All photos by Sue Kliebenschädel and Marie Friedli
The tulip has come to be a loved symbol of the Netherlands. Many tourists visit the country just to see the bright coloured flower and the astonishing view over the bulb fields.

The season begins in March with crocuses, followed by the daffodil and the yellow narcissi. In April the hyacinths and tulips blosssom to some time in mid May, depending on the weather.

Later, in August it is time for the gladioli. Even when spring is over, the Netherlands is still a garden, visitors can enjoy flowers in the Netherlands all year round.
The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning. In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehen-sive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay. Known as the Grach-tengordel, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the Herengracht (Gentlemen's or more accurately Patricians' Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal).

The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht, which is often not mentioned on maps, because it is an collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The canals served the purposes of defence and water management.

Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares.