Amidst the chaos of central Rome, nestled between the Gianicolo slopes and the Tiber, lies one of Rome’s green treasures: the Botanical Garden, a true Corner of Paradise.
Managed by the Environmental Biology Department of Sapienza University of Rome, it sprawls across approximately 12 hectares between Via della Lungara and the Gianicolo Hill, occupying a portion of the archaeological area known as Horti Getae – once home to the baths of Septimius Severus. Established in its current location, adjacent to Palazzo Riario-Corsini, since 1883.
It was Pope Nicholas III, serving from 1277 to 1280, who envisioned a remedy for the uncertainty in identifying plants described by ancient physicians. To counter errors and fraud, he established an hortus semplicium outside the city walls.
Centuries later, Pope Alexander VII delved deeper into botanical studies. In the mid-1600s, he ordered the relocation of the Roman university to a more expansive space near the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola on the Gianicolo. This move coincided with the repair of an aqueduct supplying Trastevere and meeting the irrigation needs of the adjacent gardens.
In the adjacent villa during the 17th century, lived Christina of Sweden, a former queen. Following her conversion to Catholicism and fearing reprisals from Protestants, she embarked on a pilgrimage across European states.
Eventually settling in Rome, she dedicated herself to charitable works, arts, music, theater, and, among other things, pursued botany with profound passion.
The plants come from every corner of the world, including several centuries-old specimens. Various greenhouses (open for morning visits only) nurture cacti, tropical plants, and medicinal herbs. Surrounding them is an impressive variety of well-maintained plant species.
Sequoias, ginkgo trees, orchids, and bromeliads serve as a backdrop to magnificent fountains, romantic pathways, a rose garden, a delightful bamboo grove, a Mediterranean garden, a captivating Japanese garden, and notably, the garden for the visually impaired.
A truly extraordinary place where anxiety fades, and the harmony that only plants can provide is rediscovered.