The Royal Botanical Garden is a stunning city-centre oasis and base of scientific research in Madrid. Conceived by Charles III in the late 1700s it was deliberately located next to the Prado Museum (originally the Museum of Natural Sciences).
The garden has around 5500 species of plant (many brought from former Spanish colonies) – outstripping London’s Physic Garden and Oxford’s Botanic Garden in terms of variety. Originally, it was a working garden providing a supply of medicinal plants to Madrid’s general hospital (the Hospital de San Carlos) – until it closed in 1965 to become the Reina Sofia Museum in 1992.
Its unique location, only 50 metres from the eight lanes of the Paseo del Prado make it a haven of tranquillity. For gardeners and lovers of nature it’s the perfect retreat – even better at the end of an autumn day; when the heat, sun and visitors are lower. The garden is managed by Spain’s Higher Council for Scientific Research.
Photographs (c) Essential History
Featured image: the Puerta de Murillo entrance designed by Juan de Villanueva (principal architect of the Prado Museum)