The world’s first university botanical garden was created in Padua in 1545, which makes the Botanical Garden of Padua the oldest surviving example of this type of cultural property. Botanical gardens have played a vital role throughout history in the communication and exchange not only of ideas and concepts but also of plants and knowledge. The Botanical Garden of Padua is the original of botanical gardens in Europe, and represents the birth of botanical science, of scientific exchanges and understanding of the relationship between nature and culture.
It preserves its original layout, a circular central plot symbolizing the world surrounded by a ring of water representing the ocean. The plan is a perfect circle with a large inscribed square, which is subdivided into four units by orthogonal paths, oriented according to the main cardinal directions. When the four entrances were re-designed in 1704, the wrought-iron gates leading to the inner circles and the four acroteria were placed on eight pillars and surmounted by four pairs of wrought-iron plants. During the first half of the 18th century, the balustrade, which runs along the top of the entire 250 m of the circular wall, was completed. The Botanical Garden of Padua houses two important collections: the library that contains more than 50,000 volumes and manuscripts of historical and bibliographic importance and the herbarium, which is the second most extensive in Italy. Particularly rare plants were also traditionally collected and grown in the garden. Currently, there are over 6,000 species, arranged according to systematic, utilitarian and ecological-environmental criteria, as well as thematic collections.