Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by Laura Teso
The Botanical Garden in Padua was founded in 1545 to grow medicinal plants. It is the oldest in the world still located in its original seat. In autumn 2014 a new wing was inaugurated, the Garden of Biodiversity.
Did you know that… The Garden once contained plants employed to obtain really expensive medicines. For this reason, thieves often snuck into the garden at night to steal these valuable ingredients. In order to protect the plants, in 1552 were created the circular walls still existing.
Since 1997 the Botanical Garden of Padua is a Unesco heritage with this motivation:
The Botanical Garden of Padua is the origin of all botanical gardens throughout the world, and represents the birth of science, of scientific exchanges, and understanding of the relationship between nature and culture. It has made a profound contribution to the development of many modern scientific disciplines, notably botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology and pharmacy.
I heard some rumors of tourists having troubles finding the Botanical Garden in Padua, so I attach a photo of Piazza del Santo with an arrow that shows you the way to follow. It is really close to St. Anthony Basilica (2 min). Follow the red arrow and you’ll arrive at a gate. Pass it and turn right. There you’ll se the entrance.
Botanical garden in Padua – The Old Part
Leaving the Ticket Office turn left. You will see the hollow plane tree (one of the oldest plants in the garden, planted here in 1680, it is hollow due to lightning). Going on towards the right side, you will enter the circular part where you can find the oldest sections of the Botanical Garden (healing herbs, poisonous plants, plants of the Euganean Hills and rare plants). At the bottom you can spot the greenhouse with the famous San Pietro palm, the older plant in the garden, which, after the visit of Goethe in 1786 is nicknamed Goethe’s palm. He was so impressed by this palm that he formulated his theory of evolution. Very interesting for the kids can be the carnivorous, or better insectivorous, plants (outside the circular perimeter, in the greenhouses towards the north door).
The New Part
To visit the new part you must exit the Ticket Office and take the last path that goes to the left. At the fountain go forward keeping to the right. There you can enjoy a beautiful view of Santa Giustina. After the hedge turn left immediately and enter the first greenhouse. In fact there are 4 large greenhouses, completely self-sufficient, with solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system.
Each greenhouse reproduces a different terrestrial ecosystem: tropical rain forest, tropical sub humid forest, temperate and Mediterranean climate and finally arid climate. Between the first and the second greenhouse, by stairs or elevator, you can reach a balcony and admire the plants from above. On the ground floor, all around the greenhouses, there are corridors where you will find beautiful wood panels and other elements with explanations: fun facts, scientific data, origin and use of certain plants and some interactive tools. Even kids can enjoy the visit! For example you can learn that:
- The human selection led to obtain seedless bananas while in nature they would be full of nasty little seeds. I did not know that before my visit!
- Potatoes and tubers are very important for the development of the human brain.
- Thanks to the Botanical Garden of Padua many exotic species could spread throughout Italy: sunflower, potatoes, lilac, jasmine.
Tips for the visit
Inside the first greenhouse it is very hot! Especially if you come in winter the difference with the outside is quite significant.
- Interesting Botanical garden, especially since they opened the new greenhouses that allow you to learn while having fun thanks to interactive panels
- Pleasant place
- Modern and clean bathrooms (at the bar and in the building after the greenhouses)
- At the time of my visit, I paid €12 to enter (normally it is 10€) because there was an exhibition (in a separate location), which did not interest me and I had not time to visit
- To my disappointment and amazement there is no reduced ticket for residents (unless you buy the seasonal ticket)
- No explanatory panels in the old part
- Sometimes I noticed that the plants in the old session look a little “shabby”. I do not know if it depends on the climate change…
Via Orto Botanico, 15 – Padova
Closed on working Mondays