Created by order of Cosimo I de’ Medici on the iniziative of the great botanist, Luca Ghini, the Giardino dei Semplici (Garden of Simples) is the oldest botanical garden in the world and the first to be connected to a university. The Pisan gardens were transferred several times in the past. At first, during the Prefecture of Luca Ghini, the Garden was beside the ancient shipyard (arsenal) (1543-1545). This area was required by the Order of Knights of St. Stephen and the gardens were transferred to a plot near the church of St. Marta, where the name of the street (via del Giardino) still recalls its presence.
Here, the secluded position, distant from the University building (Sapienza) and the shady area, did not meet with the scientists’ approval, so the Grand Duke of Tuscany transferred the gardens to a ‘third garden’, its definitive site in via S. Maria (1590) .
The garden, a place for meditation and research, possessed some authentic “mirabilia” vegetali as well as planted and dried specimens for scientists to study. Classification and cataloguing of plant varieties,a typical task in the Pisan garden, were accompanied from earliest times by faithful drawings and engravings “from life”, inserted into volumes and manuscripts that were circulated, so stimulating useful exchanges among scientists and contributing to the affirmation of Botany as a modern science.
The Botanical Museum is situated in the Gardens. In the first half of the 18th century the facade of this building was renovated and decorated with a whimsical design of shells and corals.
Scientific enquiry continues in the Gardens, with additions to the plant collection for the purposes of teaching, science and the spread of knowledge.
More info about opening times, guided visits and tickets : see below