Gardens

Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

If you are a fan of gardening and/ or botany in general, I recommend that you go visit a botanical garden… You will enjoy yourself as a child! If you are from Spain or are planning to come, you should know that one of the most important is the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.

Why? You ask. There are many others, but the truth is that few have so much history behind them. While you are thinking about whether to go or not, I invite you to join me to meet him in this article .

What is the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid?

Image – Wikimedia/ Diego Delso

Although its own name indicates it, it could also be said that it is a scientific research center, specifically botany. At present, it belongs to the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). It was founded by King Fernando VI on October 17, 1755 in the Soto de Migas Calientes, near the Manzanares River, but King Carlos III ordered it to be transferred, in 1781, to Paseo del Prado, which is where it is today.

What is its history?

The history of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid begins in 1755, when King Ferdinand VI founded it on the banks of the Manzanares River. At that time it had more than 2000 plants, which were collected by a botanist and surgeon named José Quer from his travels both through the peninsula and Europe.

As there were more and more plants and space was limited, Carlos III ordered to move it to the Paseo del Prado. And he was not alone. The scientist Casimiro Gómez Ortega was one of those who participated in the construction project, and his prime minister, the Count of Floridablanca, we imagine that also helping because after the works not only the Prado Hall would be embellished, but also (and above all) because the area would serve as a ‘gift’ so to speak for Science and Art, and for all those who had a job related to them.

Between the years 1774 and 1781, which was the last year in which it was inaugurated, a first project was made, distributing the Garden in three levels and the part of the enclosure, in which the Royal Gate stands out. A few years later, between 1785 and 1789, Juan de Villanueva, carried out a second project that occupied ten hectares distributed in three levels adapted to the characteristics of the terrain.

The two lower terraces, called the Pictures and the Botanical Schools, remain today as they were built, but the upper one, the Terrace of the Flower Plane, was remodeled in the 19th century giving it more plant beauty.

Like any real botanical garden worth its salt, at that time it already had drawings and illustrations of plants, seeds, fruits, living plants, a library, scientific collections, and so on. The whole place was protected by a, they say, elegant iron valley.

Present

Although it has gone through a lot (it lost two hectares in 1882 because they needed it to build the Ministry of Agriculture, it suffered a cyclone in 1886 that knocked down 564 trees of great value, and in 1893 it lost one more area because it was used to open the street of the booksellers, now popularly known as Cuesta de Claudio Moyano), the truth is that it can boast of being one of the most important in Europe.

In 1939 it became dependent on the CSIC, and in 1947 it was declared a National Monument. In 1974 it was temporarily closed as it was time to recover its original style, which was given by the architects Antonio Fernánmdez Alba and Guillermo Sánchez Gil; Leandro Silva Delgado, was the landscaper in charge of beautifying the gardens.

Thus, at present it contains about 5 thousand species of plants from all over the world.

What can we find on each of the terraces?

Image – Flickr/ Jose Javier Martin Espartosa

Terrace of the Pictures

Here you will enjoy the collections of garden, medicinal, aromatic plants, antique rose bushes, horticultural plants surrounded by boxwood hedges. At the end of the central walk they have a rockery.

Terrace of the Botanical Schools

There is the taxonomic collection of some plants, arranged by families. They are located around twelve fountains that allow you to take a tour of the plant world knowing from the most primitive species to the most ‘modern’.

Terrace of the Flower Plane

There is a great variety of trees and shrubs that seem to be out of order. On the north flank they have a greenhouse structure called the Graells greenhouse, which is where tropical and aquatic plants live, and next to it, a larger and more modern one that is used as an exhibition. The latter is divided into three different environments (tropical, temperate and desert), each with specific plants.

Terrace of the Laureles

It was added as an extension in 2005, and is intended to house special collections, such as the bonsai that was donated by former President Felipe González.

More about the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

In addition to the fantastic themed terraces, they also have several scientific collections. One of them is the herbarium, which gathers about a million sheets; another is the library and archive, which consists of some 30,000 botanical books, 2,075 periodical publication titles, 3,000 microfiche titles, 2,500 maps, and 26,000 brochures or print runs; and the germplasm bank, which is where they keep the seeds that they collect themselves and that they exchange with other institutions in the world.

Some of the best known scientific publications are:

  • Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid: which is a journal that publishes articles on botany, as well as related fields such as bioinformatics, ecophysiology, etc.
  • Flora Ibérica: is a publication that talks about vascular plants that are native to the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

Opening hours of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid and price of admission

Image – Flickr/ Jose Javier Martin Espartosa

If you want to go see it, you have to go to Plaza de Murillo number 2, in Madrid. You can get there with the metro from Estación del Arte. The schedule is as follows:

  • From November to February: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Sunday.
  • March and October: from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. from Monday to Sunday.
  • April and September: from 10am to 8pm from Monday to Sunday.
  • From May to August: from 10am to 9pm from Monday to Sunday.

As for prices, they are the following:

  • Adults: 6 euros
  • Students and adults from large families: 4 euros
  • Over 65s: 2.50 euros.
  • Under 18s: free.

To go to some of the workshops they do, you have to check both the schedule and the price.

Enjoy it!

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