Gardens and the cultivation of plants have been around for thousands of years with the first examples dating to around 3000 years ago in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Romans were also keen gardeners and they were also aware of the medicinal properties of plants. Following on from the Romans in identifying the medicinal properties of plants were the monks. They also used the beauty of plants and flowers as a celebration of god. The first of these monastic gardens was created in the 8th century. These gardens were the pre-cursor to the physic gardens that appeared in the 16 century.
The first botanical garden in the world
The world’s first botanical garden was created in Padua in 1545. It still preserves its original layout – a circular central plot, symbolizing the world, surrounded by a ring of water. Other elements were added later, some architectural (ornamental entrances and balustrades) and some practical (pumping installations and greenhouses). It continues to serve its original purpose as a centre for scientific research.
What to see?
While still maintaining its original structure, the garden gained plenty of additions over the centuries, especially of plants deriving from every corner of the world. Today the species total has arrived at approximately 6,000.
The garden features five different natural biomes where the relevant plants are cultivated: Mediterranean maquis, Alpine flora, fresh-water environments fed by a thermal spring, succulent plants, and a tropical green house for orchids.
Within its thematic collections, the Padua Botanical Garden counts carnivorous plants, medicinal plants, poisonous plants, plants from the Euganei Hills, rare plants and plants first introduced to Italy by way of the Garden itself.
The oldest blueprint of the Padua Botanical Garden dates back to 1585. The design is in the form of a St. Peter’s Palm, also known as Goethe’s Palm – given that the German writer, on a visit to Padua in September 1786, was inspired to write his theory on plant metamorphosis after seeing the Garden.
Location: Via Orto Botanico, 15, 35123 Padua
Official website: http://www.ortobotanicopd.it
Tel.: +39 049 827 3939