A small town called Aalsmeer, located only 10 miles from Amsterdam, is the flower capital of the world and a home to the largest flower auction in the world. Every day, from 4am to 11am, more than 40 million flowers and plants from all over the world are traded at the auction building.
The enormity of the building strikes you immediately. The auction building floor space amounts to 10.6 million sq.ft., making it the second largest building in the world. Everything looks like a complicated logistics puzzle that needs to be solved urgently. The secret is in the impeccable organization and timing of the auctions.
The people in Aalsmeer started cultivating flowers around 1880. They grew roses in greenhouses, which they would send to Amsterdam in barges. Soon, the trade shifted to Aalsmeer’s local cafés where people would bid for the flowers. In 1912, two auction houses were founded Centrale Aalsmeerse Veiling (Central Aalsmeer Auction) in the town’s center and Bloemenlust in Aalsmeer East.
Due to the boom on the flower market and the increased export, the flowering industry in Aalsmeer needed a spacious warehouse where auctions could take place and flowers and plants stored and exported. Thus, on March 6, 1968, the Centrale Aalsmeerse Veiling (Central Aalsmeer Auction) merged with Bloemenlust in Aalsmeer East and so the new auction was born: Aalsmeer Flower Auction (Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer). In 1972, the present day complex was opened and it has been expanding ever since.
What to Expect
The size of the place and the vast number of the merchandized goods leave no place for mistakes. This is why this highly automatized place works like a Swiss clock, with precision and zero delay.
Early Bird Sees the Flower before It’s Gone
If you want to feel the heated atmosphere of buying and selling, make sure you reach the auction building in the early morning. The auction is at full swing around 7 am, however some time before 9 o’clock will also be good to come and experience the craze of the market at its liveliest.
Take a Look From Above
A walkway above the main flower market floor is reserved for visitors as it provides a great view over the carts with loaded buckets of flowers, 13,000 flower species ranging from simple to the exotic ones.
Dutch Tradition, 13 Clocks and Five Rooms
The auction is set up following Dutch tradition: the prices start high and then work their way down. The goal is to purchase the flowers for a good price, without being beaten to the punch. The auctions take place at thirteen clocks distributed over five rooms.
The walkway offers a good view on the auction rooms through the large windows. From there you can take in the frantic, fast-paced but silent auction. An interesting fact: the prices of flowers and plants around the world depend what happens on these auctions. Completely awe-inspiring, isn’t it?
The auction complex is open for visitors from 7am to 11am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, while on Thursday it is open from 7 am to 9 am. The ticket for the adults is 6 euros, while children’s ticket is 3.5 euros.
To reach the auction complex from the center of Amsterdam, get on a bus number 172 and buy a ticket from the driver. This bus leaves from the Central Station, a stop Victoria Hotel and stops right at the auction building. If you land at Amsterdam Zuid Station, get on the bus number 171 that goes to Kudelstraart through Aalsmeer. If you land on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, get on the any of the buses 188, 198 or N72.