Created by the botanist Luca Ghini, the former “Giardino dei Semplici” is the oldest University botanical garden in the world, the first connected to a university.
The gardens were transferred several times in the past. Before being moved to the present location, the Garden was near the Republican Arsenal (1543-1545). The secluded position, distant from the University seat (the Sapienza) did not meet with the botanist’s approval, so the Grand Duke of Tuscany transferred the Gardens to the today’s definitive site in via S. Maria (1590) .
The garden, a place for meditation and research, boasted authentic “mirabilia” vegetali as well as planted and dried specimens for scientists to study.
Classification and cataloguing of plant varieties were accompanied 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 set inside the Gardens. In the first half of the 18th century its facade 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.