Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro was founded on June 13, 1808 by Dom João VI, who then was prince regent of United Kingdom of Brazil and Portugal. It is one of the great tropical botanical gardens of the world.
Jardim Botânico is conveniently located in the heart of the South Side, minutes away from Ipanema and Copacabana. Spend an afternoon leisurely walking along the gardens, ponds and well-manicured lanes. Cariocas themselves do this every now and then to recharge the energies, and get in closer contact with nature. Einstein and Queen Elizabeth of England are among famous international visitors to the park, that was also a favorite of Tom Jobim.
The Botanical Garden was originally created to adapt to the Brazilian climate plants like nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon that were imported from the Western Indies. It was open for public visitation in 1822 during the reign of Dom Pedro I, Dom João VI's son. In 1937 it was listed as part of the Brazilian Historical Heritage, and in 1992 it was considered by UNESCO a biosphere reserve.
To give you a taste of what to expect, we have captures in images some of the park's highlights. The gardens have several special areas featuring plants of specific Brazilian regions such as the Amazon. The most well-known symbol of the park are the royal palms, some dating back to the period of Dom João VI! There's much more to see, though.
Do not miss the impressive Victoria-Regis floating on the Frei Leandro pond. Walk among cocoa and rubber trees, breathe in the pungent aroma of the abricó-de-macaco trees, and watch out for the falling fruit - they are the size of a football! The greenhouses with bromeliads and orchids are very popular. There is also a sensorial garden, a Japanese garden, and many other special areas to visit.
The park is dotted with sculptures and fountains. The central fountain, surrounded by royal palm trees, was wrought in England and brought to the park from Lapa in 1905. On the same year they brought from Passeio Público (Downtown) the beautiful sculptures by Mestre Valentim, including the statues of Eco and Narciso and the tall-legged birds. They are now housed in their own special niche.
Start your visit with a quick stop in the visitor center, buy a map for US$0.30, and do the park at your own speed. Instead of looking for specifics, walk aimlessly and be surprised with the myriad surprises you will find at each corner you turn. You will surely go back home with fond memories. Choose the topics below for more photos and tips!