ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
It houses more than 30,000 species from all over the world and has been managed by the CSIC since 1939. To make sure you don't miss any of the details, follow one of its self-guided tours. Its main entrance is opposite the Prado Museum, in the Plaza de Murillo.
What is a botanical garden?
Botanical gardens are descended from the orchards and convent gardens of the Middle Ages, which evolved during the Renaissance to become university gardens. Today, there are more than 3,000 botanical gardens in the world. Many of them preserve real jewels of the plant world and are centres of reference for the study of plants and fungi.
Botanic gardens not only conserve numerous plant species, but also carry out research and scientific dissemination work.
More than two and a half centuries of history
Founded in 1755 by order of Ferdinand VI, it was originally located on the banks of the Manzanares River and had more than 2,000 plants. Twenty years later King Charles III commissioned the architects Juan de Villanueva and Francesco Sabatini to move it to its current location, where it was inaugurated in 1781.
The three staggered terraces, arranged according to Linnaeus' method in which you will find species obtained on expeditions to America and the Pacific, which you will find inside today, date from this period.
The garden is currently a research centre of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and European species have been included.
The Bonsai Collection
Among the species it houses are camellias, dahlias, lilies, magnolias and the roses in its rose garden. However, one of the most curious collections is that of bonsais (miniature trees).
Donated in 1996 by the former Prime Minister Felipe González Márquez, it has been on display in the Terraza de los Laureles since 2005. It is considered the most important collection of native Iberian species with 61 specimens (yew, black and sessile juniper, wild olive, cork oak, holm oak, beech, mastic, boxwood, hawthorn and elm among others) and also has species from Japan, China, Canada and South America, some of which have been prepared by prominent Japanese bonsai masters and given as gifts by heads of state and government.
Plan your visit
The Royal Botanic Garden is a box of surprises full of beautiful nooks and crannies, an ideal place to get away from the noise and enjoy nature and calm. If you've spent a few hours in the nearby Prado Museum, the Botanical Gardens are the perfect counterpoint to rest. Combining the two is a great idea.
However, the possibilities offered by the garden are many and varied. On its website you will find a multitude of suggestions for planning your visit, finding out the state of the Garden month by month or choosing from the various activities on offer or through self-guided itineraries with such suggestive names as: "plants in Don Quixote", "aromatic plants", "unique trees" or "scientific expeditions", among others.
Address: Plaza de Murillo 2 (next to the Prado Museum)
More Information: www.rjb.csic.es