The botanical garden of Padua
The botanical garden of Padua, founded in 1545, is the oldest botanical garden in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The botanical garden was born as a medicinal garden of the University of Padua, not only for the cultivation of medicinal plants, but also to facilitate the learning and recognition of plants by students. Medicinal plants constituted the majority of the “simple” medicines from nature. For this reason the original name of the garden was “Giardino dei Semplici”.
Due to the rarity of the plants contained and the high price of the medicines that were obtained from them, the Garden was the object of frequent night thefts, despite the severe penalties imposed by law. For this reason a circular enclosure wall was built, still visible today.
The garden was continuously enriched with plants from various parts of the world, especially from Countries where the Republic of Venice had possessions or trade; for this very reason Padua has had a prominent place in the introduction and study of many exotic species.
The plants introduced for the first time in Italy through the botanical garden were many; among these the Ginkgo biloba, magnolia, potato, jasmine, acacia and sunflower.
The Botanical Garden is located in the historic centre of Padua, near the Prato della Valle square. The garden currently has an area of almost 22,000 square meters and contains over 6,000 cultivated plants, gathering 3,500 different species that represent, albeit in a reduced form, a significant part of the plant kingdom. All the plants kept in the garden bear a special label with the scientific name of the species, the family they belong to, the initials of the cataloguer who first described it and finally the year of planting in the garden. In the garden some natural environments have been reconstructed, such as: the Mediterranean maquis; alpin rock; freshwater environment; fat plants; tropical greenhouse. At the center of the botanical garden there is a pool for aquatic plants that is fed by a stream of hot water coming from an underground aquifer.
View of the greenhouse of the botanical garden and the Santa Giustina church in the background. Padova, Veneto, Italy. (foto © ArdoPics / Shutterstock.com)
View of the landmark “Orto Botanico di Padova” at the University of Padua, the oldest academic botanical garden in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Padova, Veneto, Italy. (foto © EQRoy / Shutterstock.com)
In the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua there are some historical trees, such as the so-called “Goethe’s palm”, planted in 1585: it is currently the oldest plant in the botanical garden. Or the first acacia introduced in Italy, dating back to 1662. Or the plane tree planted in 1680: a particularly imposing tree, with the peculiarity of having a hollow stem, a consequence of the activity of a fungus.
Since 1835, inside the Botanical Garden there is a library which, in addition to specialized books, contains other material including dry herbaria, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, historical plans and museum objects. The museum’s herbarium includes around 500,000 samples from Italy, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, which have arrived since the end of the 18th century.
In October 2014, the new wing of the Botanical Garden was inaugurated, called the “Garden of Biodiversity”. Within this new modern structure, more than 1,300 plant species are collected, ranging from every climate present on the planet.
The Botanical Garden is located in Padua in Orto botanico Street, 15. The opening hours are: From November to March open from Tuesday to Sunday and all public holidays from 9 to 17. In April open every day from 9 to19. Closed on Mondays. From May to September open from Tuesday to Sunday and all public holidays from 10 to 19. Closed on Mondays. In October open from Tuesday to Sunday and all public holidays from 10 to 18. Closed on Mondays.
The cost of the ticket is 10 € and there are reductions.
In addition to being an obligatory stop for lovers of botany and science in general, this site is located in the splendid Padua, a city rich in art and history, which definitely worth a visit.
Author: Luca © Italien.blog
View of the canal with statues in Prato della Valle square and the Basilica of Santa Giustina in Padua, Veneto, Italy. (foto © Shutterstock.com)
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