Botanical Garden in Padua (World Heritage)

Padua has the oldest botanical garden in the world. The facility, founded in 1545, remained largely unchanged and belongs to the University of Padua. Around 6000 plants are grown almost exclusively outdoors. The Goethe palm and a ginkgo from 1750 are worth seeing.

Botanical garden in Padua: facts

Official title: Botanical garden in Padua
Cultural monument: Orto Botanico dell’Università di Padova, founded for the purpose of scientific studies, the basic plan of the Botanical Garden has remained largely unchanged; Plant on the site of the Benedictine monastery of Santa Giustina, not far from the Basilica di Santa Giustina (1521-80), design by Daniele Barbaro and realization by the architect Andrea Moroni; initially mainly the cultivation of medicinal plants, within 7 years of the creation of the garden, which is part of the University of Padua, cultivation of around 1500 plant species, today almost 6000 plant species, seed exchange program with around 700 botanical gardens; Among the old plants worth seeing are the so-called Goethe palm, a chaste tree from 1550 and a 19 m high ginkgo from 1750
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy
Location: Padua
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: the first and therefore oldest botanical garden in the world

Botanical garden in Padua: history

1545 Based on the decision of the Senate of the Republic of Venice, it was founded as “Orto dei Semplici”
1554 original plant of the botanical garden completed
1565 first breeding of lilacs in Europe
1568 first breeding of sunflowers in Europe

Not just Goethe’s palm

In an octagonal greenhouse behind an old sundial stands a majestic umbrella palm that is over 400 years old. The special thing about this magnificent plant is not only that it was planted in the oldest botanical garden in Europe in the late 16th century, but that this tree – the Goethe palm – also bears the name of a well-traveled poet and scholar who was associated with it developed his first thoughts on the morphology of plants: according to hyperrestaurant, On his first trip to Italy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also came to Padua in September 1786. Here, between the famous basilicas of San Antonio and Santa Giustina, he found an oasis of calm in the shade of the grandiose magnolias and a chaste tree, the oldest tree in the garden. “It is delightful and instructive to walk among vegetation that is alien to us. With familiar plants and other long-known objects, we ultimately think nothing at all, and what is contemplation without thinking? “Writes Goethe in his travel diary. In the regularly laid out beds next to the winding Brenta, surrounded by old stone walls, the scholar’s first thoughts on the metamorphosis of plants sprouted: “Here in this new variety that confronts me, the thought that all plant forms might develop from one is ever more vivid The foundation stone for the work “An attempt to explain the metamorphosis of plants” was laid. This experiment showed for the first time that all plants develop from an “archetype”. Just as the German poet could indulge his thoughts, it lay in the secular tradition of the city, which had already proven with the founding of the second oldest university in Europe that one virtue was particularly valued: freedom of thought. At the university founded in 1222, where the astronomer Copernicus studied, among others, there was freedom of teaching – not a matter of course in Italy, which was then largely controlled by the Papal States. Galileo Galilei taught and researched here, and in 1533 Francesco Bonafede initiated the study of pharmacology for the first time – then called “Lectrum Simplicium”. He recognized the need for students to learn about medicinal medicinal plants.

Since the naval power of the Republic of Venice, to which Padua belonged, had gained access to large parts of the world, it was not difficult to collect plants from the remotest areas of the world. By resolution of the Senate, the botanical garden, the “Orto dei Semplici”, was laid out within a few months according to Andrea Moroni’s plans. To this day, it has retained much of its original appearance: the oval complex has four gates, which are entwined with exotic plants made of wrought iron and which date from the 16th century. Concentric paths lead past geometric beds, which are grouped around round fountains. Over the centuries, details may have changed, but the general conception of the garden has not, as can be seen from the plans in the Uffizi collection. Although a hailstorm on Jan. August 1834 destroyed the blooming splendor in a short time, uprooted trees and destroyed the glass of the greenhouses, some plants from the 16th century can still be seen. Today there are almost 6,000 specimens that can be admired in the carefully tended garden. The first lilacs, the first sunflowers and the first potatoes in Europe were grown in the greenhouses.

In addition to the cultivation of useful and medicinal plants, the botanical garden continues to be used for research today. A collection of 500,000 dried specimen copies as well as a pharmacological museum and a library with manuscripts from the 15th century belong to this unique botanical garden. The Goethe palm, which stands in the small, green oasis of the garden in the middle of the dense traffic of the Prato della Valle and the Piazze delle Erbe e della Frutta, can watch today as it did then as scientists deal with the development of new revolutionary ideas.

Botanical Garden in Padua