Historians speculate that the first Tulip to have flowered in Europe was in the garden of French explorer Pierre Belon in the mid-1550s. He started his garden near Le Mans in 1540 and published Les Observations de Plusieurs Singularitiés in 1553. In this book he describes 'Lils rouges' - most likely red Tulips - in abundance.
Another potential candidate for first European Tulip is Johann Heinrich Herward, a councilor in Augsburg, Bavaria. Swiss botanist and physician Conrad Gesner visited his garden in April of 1559 and wrote about seeing a 'beautiful red flower' in his book De Hortis Germaniae.