Created in 1545 on the property of the Benedictine monks of St. Justine, the Botanical Garden of Padova is the oldest existing university botanical garden in the world. The Senate of the Venetian Republic approved its foundation for the cultivation of medicinal plants, which then constituted the largest portion of the so-called "simple" herbs, i.e., medicaments of natural origin. This is why early botanical gardens were called Horti simplicium ("Gardens of Simples"). The identification of plants used for medicinal purposes by renowned botanists of ancient times was uncertain, and frequently led to mistakes and even frauds, which caused great damage to people's health. The institution of a Horto medicinale, prompted by Francesco Bonafede, who held the chair of "Lecturer of Simples", enabled students to identify true medicinal plants, and the first "custodian" of the Garden, Luigi Squalermo, called Anguillara, introduced and cultivated a large number of species (1800).
In spite of severe punishments (fines, imprisonment, exile) for whoever damaged it, the Garden was often the target of thieves, who stole many of the rare plants it contained, due to the high prices that could be obtained for them. A circular enclosing wall was soon built (hence the names Hortus sphaericus, Hortus cinctus, and Hortus conclusus).
The Garden was constantly enriched with plants from all over the world, particularly from countries where the Venetian Republic had possessions, or with which it traded. This is why Padova played such an essential role in the introduction and study of several exotic species.
Via dell’ Orto Botanico
0039 049 8272119 - 27
3€ cheap ticket
April-October: every day 9.00am - 1.00pm, 3.00pm - 7.00pm
November-March: 9.00am - 1.00pm (closed on public holidays