Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Aug 2003  add photos June 2016


The Botanical Garden of Naples is another of the "green lungs" in the city, those welcome, large patches of vegetation that help the city breathe in the midst of asphalt and traffic. (Others are the Villa Comunale, the Floridiana, and the Vineyard of San Martino.)

The Garden in Naples takes up about 30 acres and is located on via Foria, adjacent to the gigantic old Albergo dei Poveri (the Royal Poorhouse) and is part of the University of Naples Department of Natural Science. It is one of the many scientific and educational facilities instituted under French rule in Naples (1806-15). (Another was the observatory.) The Garden opened in 1810 and had a single director for the next 50 years.

At present the Garden displays on the premises around 25,000 samples of vegetation, covering about 10,000 plant species. Although open to the public, the Orto Botanico is not, strictly speaking, a public park. It is really an educational facility for the university and local high schools and is separate from the agricultural department of the University of Naples (on the grounds of the old Royal Palace in Portici). The Garden is also actively engaged in the preservation of some endangered plant species.

There is also an ethnobotany section of the Garden where plants are studied that are potentially useful medicinally to humans. Besides smaller structures on the premises, there are two larger ones: the 17th-century "castle" (image, below left) recently restored, and the 5,000 sq. meter Merola Greenhouse.

The castle contains lecture and display rooms, and houses the ethnobotany section as well as the fascinating section on paleobotany, displaying the evolution of plant life throughout the history of our planet.

oval photo (top) and photo directly
above  by Fulvio De Marinis

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