Konst och Kultur

Royal Botanical Gardens - Naples


At the foot of the Capodimonte hill, a majestic central double stairway leads to the interior of one of the most important botanical gardens of Italy as far as size and the quality of its collections are concerned.
The "Royal Botanical Gardens" of Naples is a university structure and is part of the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Science.
It was founded in 1807 thanks to a decree signed by Giuseppe Bonaparte, and was run for 51 years by Michele Tenore, a famous botanist and apprentice of Petagna.
In the following years the management passed over to important public figures of the botanical scene, including the current director Paolo De Luca.
This illustrious professor, since 1981 after having seen to repairing damage caused by the earthquake, has been taken care of the scientific organisation and activities of the Gardens pertaining to research, education, the conservation of almost extinct species of flora, and the cultivation and display of the collections.
In an area of over twelve hectares, 10,000 species of flora with a total of 25,000 items are distributed according to the three main criteria: ecology, systems and ethno-botany.
The ecological areas recreate the conditions of the natural habitats of succulent plants, the Mediterranean macchia, aquatic plants and ferns, which also follow the systematic criterion of the areas occupied by the "Pinophyta", the "Magnoliophyta", orchards and palm groves.
The "Experimental Section" of medicinal plants is part of the ethno-botanical criterion and presents a display area of planets used in industrial and food production, experimental fields for the cultivation of medicinal species, and an orchard.
After the stairway and to the left of the central Viale Domenico Cirillo, there is the Department of Plant Biology and to the right there is the Arboretum, populated by species of trees and bushs including the "Melaleuca decussate", an Australian tree with paper-like bark, and the "Parrotia persica, called the pagoda tree because of the shape of its branches.
At the end of Viale Cirillo, where it intersects with Viale Tenore, there is the area of typical plant that form the Mediterranean macchia such as "Myrtus communis", "Pistacia lentiscus" and the only spontaneously living palm tree in Italy, the "Chamaerops humilis".
Moving to the left, there is the succulents area which is an amphitheatre of plant that require a dry and sunny environment, like those of the "Cactaceae" family and many other species of the "Opuntia" and "Aloe" family.
One species is interesting because of its strange shape: the "Lithops"; it is a pebble plant that hides itself among the rocks.
Nearby, in a rectangular pool, plants that are used to humid earth are kept together, like the "Mentha acquatica", plants that are anchored to the bottom like water lilies and floating plants like the "Azolla filiculoides".
Further along there is the palm grove with examples of the" Arecaceae" family such as the "Washingtonia robusta" and the "Phoenix" genus which is of great economic importance.
In the part opposite the Viale Tenore there is the area of the Pinophyta, or the gymnospores with bare seeds.
In this area there are examples of the "Cycadales" and the "Gingko biloba", the "tree of silver fruits".
The fernery is lovely, with its typical and exotic plants that require shade and humidity like the peculiar "Woodwardia radicans".
The Magnoliophyta are the angiosporous plants that have their seeds enclosed in an outer fruit.
The most important of this group is represented by the "Magnolia" genus.
The Fabaceae, Lamiaceae and Asteraceae families are characteristic.
The species of the "Citrus" genus, many of which come from Asia, especially the edible varieties, are gathered in the citrus grove.
A 17th century Castle stands between the angiosperms and the citrus grove.
Some of the rooms of this Castle host the Museum, which in the Section of Palaeontologic Botany describes the evolution of terrestrial plants from the Silurian of today through a three-dimensional phylogenetic tree.
In the Section of Ethnologic Botany there is a display of objects obtained from plants from the populations of the tropical belt.
There is also the "Merola Greenhouse", which is of great architectural value, and beside it there are centuries-old holm-oaks and the complex of the new "Califano Greehouses" which hold important collections such as that of the Cycadales.
The Museums Greenhouses can be visited by appointment with the management, while the visit to the Gardens does not require booking.
The Royal Botanical Gardens represent a precious jewel for scholars of botany and plant lovers of all kinds, but also for anyone who wants to spend a few hours in this relaxed and perfumed oasis in the very heart of the city. (Carmen Grieco)

Address
Naples, Via Foria 223

Times
All days from 9.00 to 14.00
Sunday closed (entrance on reservation only)

Prices
Free Entrance

How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Piazza Cavour (second stop); proceed on foot for about 300 metres in the direction of Piazza Carlo III: the Royal Botanical Gardens is in Via Foria 223.

Paleobotany and Ethnobotany Museum


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