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After the succesfull events Ahoy' and E55, Rotterdam asked Mr. Kleiboer to organize another. The Floriade was the first international horticulture exhibition to be held in Rotterdam in 1960.


The Floriade in 1960 with the funicular.

CC BY-SA Wouter Hagens

“Floriade". That will be the name of the international horticulture exhibition to be held in Rotterdam in 1960. This was announced yesterday afternoon by the exhibition organizer Jacques Kleiboer. The name Floriade can be compared to the name Olympics, for the aim at the international exhibition in Rotterdam is to achieve the best performances in the field of horticulture. The emblem of the exhibition will be a germinating seed.

Algemeen Handelsblad, 15 January 1959


As a sequel to the successful Ahoy’ and E55 events of 1950 and 1955 respectively, Rotterdam hosted another major high-profile event called the Floriade in 1960. In that year both the Dutch Horticulture Council and the Royal Dutch Society for Horticulture and Botany wanted to stage a major international horticulture exhibition to mark the centenary of the Royal General Society for the Cultivation of Flower Bulbs. Moreover, it was four hundred years since Carolus Clusius imported the first tulip bulb from Istanbul.


The chosen location was once again the Park and the Museumpark with to existing halls. The intention was to repair the flood damage and raise the height of the Westzeedijk. Jacques Kleiboer and Jan van Oostrom were once again responsible for organizing the event, while architects Van den Broek and Bakema supervised design aspects. Professor Jan Bijhouwer and Meto Vroom were appointed for the garden design. The chosen motto read: Van kiem tot kracht (‘From Seed to Strength’).

Dating from 1850 and drawn by four horses, the stage-coach that will carry the tulip bulb from Istanbul to Rotterdam leaves Turkey on 30 March. The journey is being undertaken to mark the fact that it is four hundred years since the first tulip bulb travelled the same route to Western Europe. A distance of 100 kilometres will be covered daily, so the coach is expected to arrive at the “Floriade” horticulture exhibition in Rotterdam on 6 May.

De Volkskrant 12 februari 1960


Departure of the stage-coach. Mr. Kleiboer gives a treat to the horse.

Wim van Rossem, Nationaal Archief, 20 maart 1960

Observation tower

A spectacular publicity stunt was the journey made by a stage-coach filled with tulip bulbs from Istanbul to Rotterdam. A caravan of transport vehicles, carers and blacksmiths accompanied the party of twelve travellers, all dressed in historical costume, who were greeted everywhere with tremendous enthusiasm. But the highlight of the event was the construction of an observation tower over one hundred metres in height at Parkhaven. The Euromast became a lasting symbol of Rotterdam and has remained a tourist attraction to this day. Even the construction of the Euromast was a spectacle. It took 23 days to erect the shaft using a slipform method of pouring concrete, and raising the crow’s nest was the chance of a lifetime for photographers and filmmakers.


The slipform tower became 15-20 centimeter taller every hour.

Nationaal Archief, 1959

The employees of Werkspoor proudly pose in front of the delivered crow’s nest at July 6th 1959; the lifting can start.

A start will be made any day now on planting for the international horticulture exhibition, which will take place in Rotterdam from May to September 1960. The organizers will make use not only of the whole area occupied by the previous E-55 exhibition, including the park, but also of the large garden belonging to Museum Boymans, where a permanent rose garden will be created for the city of Rotterdam. The general organization of the very wide-ranging exhibition (bulbs, plants, flowers and objects indirectly connected to horticulture) has been entrusted to the organizer of the E-55, Mr Jacques Kleiboer.

De Tijd 3 november 1956


The 'Dutch Garden' remained after all the years intact, beside from the size of the hedges.

Ary Groeneveld, Stadsarchief Rotterdam

The halls of the former Ahoy complex at the Wytemaweg.

Lex de Herder, Stadsarchief, 1960

Concrete blocks

The Floriade required lengthy preparations, and planting began in the winter of 1956. The Park by Zocher was thoroughly revamped. The ditch that separated the two former estates was replaced by an avenue of rhododendrons. Plenty of trees and bushes were planted, and the ponds, grassy areas and flower beds were restructured. A classical Old-Dutch garden was laid out in front of the mansion in the park. The Museumpark was raised and a rose garden created behind Museum Boijmans. Greenhouses largely intended for agriculture and horticulture displays were built beside the existing halls. The Park also contained aviaries and pavilions for chickens, ponies and other animals, as well as a cheese dairy. Under the motto ‘Gardens of the People’, there were pavilions representing America, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany and Sweden. A tropical greenhouse contained a Papua hut as well as all sorts of exotic vegetation, including coffee, tea and cacao plants, and even a paddy field with sprouting rice.


The half open concrete wall screens at the Floriade.

W.J. van der Jagt

As at the previous event, the main entrance was located beside Museum Boijmans, a bridge spanned Westzeedijk, and there was a gondola lift. The built elements formed a neutral backdrop as a foil for the abundant palette of colours and shapes of the flowers and plants. Curved wall screens were built of grey concrete blocks and half-open concrete components.

While the first part of the exhibition grounds is largely didactic in character, the second part (in the Park) is designed to please the eye. That begins right after you have crossed the timber footbridge and arrived on a three-metre-tall viewing platform, made of open blocks, from where you enjoy a view of the romantic garden, rolling expanses of grass dotted with trees, beds of narcissi, rippling ponds, images of modern expression, bridges, curved wall screens, buildings for recreation, terraces for bulbous plants, winding paths, festive landscaping.

Algemeen Handelsblad 26 maart 1960


Part of the international sculpture exhibtion at the Floriade was "La Nuit' from Maillol.

Herbert Behrens, Nationaal Archief, 12 april 1960

The sculptures across the Boymans garden.

Herbert Behrens, Nationaal Archief, 12 april 1960

International sculpture exhibition

Besides nature, there was plenty of culture. Distributed across the site were 160 sculptures by international artists: From Rodin and Maillol to Moore and Marini. With this international sculpture exhibition, Museum Boijmans emphatically put itself on the map. A cast of the sculpture L’homme qui marche (‘The Walking Man’) by Auguste Robin from 1907 was bought by the city and ever since has actually been on something of a walk around the city. After being displayed in the garden at Boijmans, the sculpture was placed successively on Joost Banckertsplaats, Schouwburgplein and Westblaak before finding a permanent home in 2001 on the Sculpture Route along the renewed Westersingel.

The Euromast is set into the Rotterdam soil like a giant exclamation mark on the exhibition grounds, which have been transformed into a vast nursery for the “Floriade". At the foot of the tower, spanning the entrance and exit of the Maas Tunnel, a bridge connects the Euromast and the exhibition site. Greenhouses, ponds, flowerbeds and endless winding paths combine to form a pattern, and nature has the place all to itself for half a year... under the eyes of hundreds of thousands of visitors.

De Volkskrant 23 maart 1960


Princess Beatrix opens the Floriade event.

ANP Photo Press Benelus, 25th March 1960


Princess Beatrix officially opened ‘the biggest flora festival ever’ on Friday 25 March. The Euromast opened the very same day. The Floriade closed at half past ten on the evening of Sunday 25 September. In the final weeks there was also an exhibition entitled ‘Autumn Glory’. The Floriade had become the intended ‘symphony of beauty, a fabulous event for those entranced by everything that grows and blossoms’. And with over 4 million visitors, it was a huge success. Moreover, the 681,000 visitors to the Euromast exceeded the target of half a million and it proved to be a tourist attraction. And so the Floriade, which had cost 12 million guilders, ended with a positive balance. ‘But,’ commented Mayor Van Walsum, ‘the positive balance is not the main point. What matters is that Rotterdam had an opportunity to introduce so many people from at home and abroad to the city.’


Tickets to enter the Floriade cable, Euromast and toilet.

Collection Paul Groenendijk

Later Floriades were staged in Amsterdam (1972, 1982), Zoetermeer (1992), Hoofddorp (2002) and Venlo (2012). The next Floriade takes place in Almere in 2022. The later Floriades were less successful and often led to heavy deficits.

25-03-1960 t/m 25-09-1960
Het Park, Baden Powelllaan, Rotterdam, Nederland