Hortus Botanicus – Botanical Garden

Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanic gardens found anywhere in the world, and it’s still going strong today nearly 400 years after it was first founded. Located next door to ARTIS Royal Zoo and across the Nieuwe Herengracht canal from the Jewish Cultural Quarter’s Jewish Historical Museum and Portuguese Synagogue, Hortus Botanicus features four greenhouses, multiple themed gardens, a picturesque café, and a garden shop. Highlights of the Hortus Botanicus collection include medicinal herbs, lilies, palm trees, and a Butterfly Greenhouse, just to name a few.

Money Saving Tip! Hortus Botanicus - Botanical Garden is included on the I Amsterdam City Pass. If you are sightseeing in Amsterdam, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.

History of Hortus Botanicus

Hortus Botanicus was established by order of the Amsterdam City Council in 1638. The garden was originally designed as a place where doctors and apothecaries could grow a variety of medicinal herbs for use in treating illnesses. In 1646, Johannes Snippendaal was named director of Hortus Botanicus, and it was during his early tenure that this influential botanic garden was first catalogued; Snippendaal’s labors revealed roughly 800 species growing at Hortus Botanicus in the middle of the seventeenth century, mostly medicinals with a few ornamental plants in the mix.

The Hortus Botanicus collection would grow significantly in the ensuing years, as the Dutch East India Company began using the facility as a place to grow the rare seeds and exotic plants it was now regularly bringing back to Amsterdam from all corners of the world. The esteemed botanist Hugo de Vries would become managing director of Hortus Botanicus in 1885, a post he would serve in for over 30 years. de Vries would do much to cement the reputation of the botanic garden as an attraction of note, and the Hortus Botanicus reputation remains sterling to this very day.

Hortus Botanicus Highlights

In addition to its selection of medicinal herbs, Hortus Botanicus is home to several key collections of plant species. Prominent collections found here include South African plants like scented geraniums, African lilies, and gerberas; cycads such as the attraction’s approximately 300-year-old Eastern Cape Giant Cycad; and a number of carnivorous plants. As you walk through the gardens, be sure and keep an eye out for some of the site’s largest and oldest trees, too, for Hortus Botanicus has a 225-year-old Turkish hazel, as well as a striking Gingko tree.

Hortus Botanicus is home to four greenhouses, each one serving a distinctive purpose. The Three Climates Greenhouse was built in 1993 and houses plants from subtropical, tropical, and desert climates. The Palm Greenhouse dates to 1911 and is where you’ll find palms, palm ferns, cinnamon trees, ficuses, and many other container plants. The Glassroom contains a permanent exhibit devoted to teaching visitors about the history of the Hortus Botanicus facility, its impressive collection, and numerous other pertinent topics.

The attraction’s fourth greenhouse is its popular Butterfly Greenhouse. There you’ll find hundreds of tropical butterflies in the midst of cacao trees, pepper plants, sugarcane, tea, rice, and a huge coffee plant. Other notable elements of Hortus Botanicus include its large pond, which is lined by a field of rhododendrons and a collection of plant species that grow in the Dutch dunes; the Semicircle, a so-called “systematic garden” where the plants are categorized according to their genetic makeup; and a garden of medicinal herbs named in honor of Johannes Snippendaal.

More to See and Do at Hortus Botanicus

Hortus Botanicus is one of the world’s foremost botanic gardens. Continue reading for several additional items to keep in mind as you visit this fantastic attraction.

•The Hortus Café is located within The Orangery, a former lecture hall dating to 1875 where tropical plants were once stored. Here you can taste a seasonal menu in a tranquil setting (laptop and phone usage are not permitted in the café). In particular, the café’s terrace is a beautiful to eat and drink, as the area is lined with an assortment of rare and exotic plants.

•The Hortus Store occupies another historic building (it dates to the seventeenth century and was once the garden director’s residence) and is a great spot to pick up a souvenir or gift. This lovingly curated shop sells a wide range of Hortus-themed products like books, jewelry, tote bags, art prints, and t-shirts, as well as actual plants and gardening supplies.

•Hortus Botanicus is a fabulous place to stroll at your leisure, but if you’d like to get even more out of your visit here then you might want to consider going on one of the attraction’s guided tours. Hortus Botanicus organizes group tours and hosts special on-site events throughout the year. For more details, visit their official website.

•Families visiting Hortus Botanicus with small children will want to pick up a special kids-centric attraction map at the venue’s admission desk. This unique map of the gardens details over a dozen plants of note that may be viewed here.

Why Hortus Botanicus Should Be on Your Must-See List

Hortus Botanicus is a lovely place to spend a quiet morning or enjoy a pleasant afternoon. Here you can lose yourself in the beauty of the natural world, even when in reality you’re just blocks away from popular Amsterdam attractions like NEMO Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, and the Rembrandt House Museum. Hortus Botanicus is an essential destination for those visitors to Amsterdam with a passion for flowers, trees, plants, and the history of scientific inquiry.