The botanical garden in Padova is the first of its kind in Europe. It was established in 1545 by decree of the Senate of the Republic of Venice. The chair of the university was keen to further the study of therapeutic medicines coming directly from nature and to develop a scientific basis for the practice of medicine.
The first prefect of the garden, Luigi Squalermo, ordered the cultivation of 2,000 species of medicinal plants. To reduce theft a circular wall was built around the garden and there were harsh punishments for anyone who stole plants.
The oldest part of the garden is within this circular wall, which now sits within a larger square.
Water lilies and other aquatic plants thrive, thanks to the constant temperature of the thermal waters, which come from an artesian well 270 metres deep.
There are some notable plants in the botanical garden…the famous Palm of St Peter, planted in 1585. It is known as the Palma Goethe because it inspired the German poet during his voyage to Italy in 1786.
There is a Magnolia Grandiflora planted in 1786, the oldest in Europe and a Ginkgo Biloba planted in 1750. Outside the circular wall is an Oriental Plane Tree dating from 1680.
I would love to show you these, but it started raining heavily before I could find them…I will have to return.
In 1997 the Botanical Garden of Padova was added to the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites, recognised for its contribution to the development of numerous scientific disciplines, such as medicine, chemistry, ecology and pharmacology.
Apart from all of the amazing history, the garden is simply a beautiful place to spend time while in Padova.