Part 2: The Sultan's Garden
The first true Tulip Fanatics were the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, which at its zenith in the 16th and 17th centuries stretched from Morocco to the Caspian Sea and from Yemen to Hungary.
In their lavish palaces in Constantinople (modern-day Instanbul, Turkey), the sultans collected and displayed the riches of their empire and treasures secured through trade. Tulips were among these treasures, and they were bred extensively and planted in large numbers in the palace gardens.
Precisely when Tulips first made their way to Europe is not clear. European ambassadors to the court of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent, who reigned from 1520 to 1566, may have seen tulips in bloom and arranged to have bulbs sent home.
The first documented flowering of a tulip in Europe took place in April 1559 in a garden in Bavaria.