The Botanical Garden of Palermo (Orto Botanico di Palermo) is both a museum and a research and educational institution of the University of Palermo, located in the Kalsa district of Palermo. The botanical garden has a collection of over 12,000 different species of plants.
Its origins date back to 1779, when the Accademia dei Regi Studi, establishing the chair of Botany and medicinal properties, gave it a modest plot of land to set up a small botanical garden for the cultivation of medicinal plants. The garden soon proved to be insufficient to the needs of the chair and, in 1786, it was decided to transfer it to its current location.
In 1789, the construction of the main administrative buildings of the garden began. A central structure, the Gymnasium, and two lateral bodies, the Tepidarium and the Calidarium, were built in neoclassical style after a design by the French architect Léon Dufourny.
Near the Gymnasium, we can find the oldest part of the garden, also designed by the architect Léon Dufourny after a rectangular scheme. On the indication of the Franciscan friar Bernardino da Ucria, a distinguished botanist, the species were arranged according to the Linnaean taxonomy, a classification system developed by Carl von Linné.
The new garden was inaugurated in 1795 and, in 1798, it was enriched with the Aquarium, a large pool in which numerous species of aquatic plants thrive.
In 1823, the Maria Carolina greenhouse was completed. The great Ficus magnolioides, which is the symbol of the garden, was imported in 1845 from the Norfolk Islands, Australia. Following successive expansions, the current area of about 10 hectares was reached in 1892.
Since 1985, the garden was entrusted to the Department of Botanical Sciences of the University of Palermo. In 1993, the germplasm bank was established, to protect the genetic heritage of the Mediterranean flora.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Botanical Garden of Palermo is located about 700 meters away from the Palermo Centrale train station. The closest bus station is Lincoln-Orto Botanico, located right in front of the garden, on the bus Lines 107, 224, 224P and 231.