In 1545, the world saw its first botanical garden. It was created in Padua and this became the birthplace of botanical science. The scientific exchanges and the understanding of cultural and nature relationships that have been done here have had a profound influence on medicine, botany, pharmacy, ecology and chemistry.

The Story of the 500-Year Orto Botanico

In 1545, the world saw its first botanical garden. It was created in Padua and this became the birthplace of botanical science. The scientific exchanges and the understanding of cultural and nature relationships that have been done here have had a profound influence on medicine, botany, pharmacy, ecology and chemistry.

Of course other elements were added to an already beautiful landscape. These include; ornamented entrances, balustrades, greenhouses and pumping installations. The Botanical Garden of Padua continues to serve its original purpose even today.

History

In the year 1533, Francesco Bonafede was appointed the Chair of Lectura Simplicium at the University of Padua. He would petition for the creation of a botanical and Herbarium Garden in 1543 and in 1545, the Most Serene Republic of Venice granted him the charter. On a plot that was owned by the Benedictine Order, work on the herbarium started. The project implementation was entrusted to Danile Barbaro.

Since then, the garden has remained here. Additional 10 fountains were added in the 17th century, 4 monument entrances were added in 1704, and a masonry greenhouse was added in the late 18th century. Other additions in the park include an arboretum, a small hillock and an English Garden with winding paths.

Danile Barbaro intended to prepare a 22,000 square meter irregular shaped garden that represented a small paradise. It would have the Alicomo Canal surrounding to represent an ocean. The garden was divided into four sections that were accessed by paths on right angles.

Evidence shows that the Botanical Garden was at first enclosed with a high brick wall. There were also four smaller squares that were manicured with beautiful flowerbeds and bordered with stone. The basic layout has been preserved, albeit with many additions throughout the garden’s history.

The Botanical Garden today is home to about 6,000 species of plants that are arranged in:

  • Systemic and utilitarian criteria i.e. medicinal plants and essence producing plants
  • Ecological environmental criteria i.e. peat bog plants, Mediterranean maquis flora and alpine flora
  • Thematic Collections i.e. carnivorous, succulent, poisonous and aquatic
  • Genus Collections

Make sure you get a chance to see the rare and endangered plant species that have been reproduced within the garden.

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