Guest Author - Rachel Webb
Located opposite the Prado museum and open all year this is one of the finest gardens in Spain. It began as the King’s botanical collection in the 18th century when gardening was a fashionable hobby for kings.
On 17th October, 1755 Fernando VI ordered the construction of the Royal gardens in Madrid, which were built on the shores of the Manzanares River. The collection started with more than 2,000 plants, collected by Jose Quer, botanist and surgeon, who collected them on his travels around the Spanish mainland, as well as swapping some specimens with other European botanists.
Some time after 1774 Carlos III gave orders to move the complex to the Paseo del Prado where it was opened in 1781 and remains today.
Since it’s creation the Royal Botanical Gardens became an important teaching centre for botany, and many expeditions to the Americas and Pacific took place. Until the War of Independence in 1808 started a period of abandonment.
Work resumed again in 1857 with Mariano de la Paz Graells the new director bringing about the renovation work that we see today. New greenhouses and main terraces were added. In his time as director Mariano also added a zoo to the complex, which was later moved to Jardin del Buen Retiro.
In the years between 1880 and 1890 the Gardens suffered huge losses. In 1882, two hectares were claimed by the state to build what is now the Ministry of Agriculture. Reducing its area to eight hectares. Then in 1886 a cyclone tore down 564 of the gardens old and valuable trees.
In the early part of 19th century it become an important base of botany and scientific investigation and in 1942 it was given the status of Jardin Artistico.
In 1974 it’s gates closed to the public for major long-term works. It was re-opened in 1981 with its emphasis more on a public garden than a scientific collection, and while it’s not as famous as Kew Garden in the U.K it’s a beautiful garden, not to be missed on a visit to Madrid.
There is an entry charge which helps to maintain the incredible gardens and also insure that only those that will respect the plants and the continual work needed to produce such fine grounds are inside the complex.
Great garden to visit, although my boys wouldn’t agree.
Madrid Botanical Garden, Plaza de Murillo 2, Madrid, Spain
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