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The Garden and its foundation

It is very likely that the botanical garden was built according to the design of the architect Andrea Moroni: it was created based on a circular structure with a square inside, which was in turn divided into four smaller squares by two perpendicular paths. Inside, a number of flowerbeds formed different geometric patterns. In 1552, a wall was built around the garden after plants kept being stolen. In the centuries that followed, the botanical garden underwent many changes and transformations, becoming enriched with statues, fountains, busts and decorative features which, however, did not alter the original structure. Over time, the greenhouses and semi-circular hall known as the “botanical theatre” were also added. The entire structure was first developed beyond the perimeter wall in the 19th century.

Padua’s botanical garden is thought to have given rise to all the other botanical gardens around the world and today counts more than 7,000 specimens belonging to more than 3,500 different species. Some of these are rare and incredibly impressive, such as the oriental plane tree with hollow trunk dating back to 1680, the ginkgo dating back to 1750 and a magnolia that may date back as far as 1786. There is also a St. Peter’s palm that was first planted in 1585 and which Goethe described in his essay on the metamorphosis of plants. The large building dating back to the XVII-XVIII century, which was once the home of the prefect, is today an exhibition space, home to the historical library, the archive and the “germo plasma bank”.
Today, the botanical garden is also home to a herbarium, which counts around 600,000 specimens including some extinct species, alongside a collection of algae known as the “Algario”.
Considering its cultural importance, in 1997 the botanical garden was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. More recently, a new area to the south of the ancient botanical garden was purchased and, since 2014, the new “Biodiversity garden” greenhouses have been open to the public there. These greenhouses simulate the climatic conditions of various environmental systems and are home to approximately 1,300 different plant species.