Though botanical gardens like Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris or the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh are items worthy of a bucket list, the world’s smallest continent has much more to offer. Many of Europe’s loveliest botanical gardens are hidden in places you may not ever had heard of.
American Gardens in Opatija
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Opatija’s coastline is home to aged oak trees that are an irreplaceable part of the region’s natural heritage. The trees have been incorporated into the landscape and the coastal town remains one of the rare places within Europe where as many as five species of native oak grow along the coastline – Turkey Oak, Downy Oak, Sessile Oak, Holm Oak and Cork Oak.
Opatija itself is a truly diverse garden, so much so that it’s adopted a few exceptionally old oak specimens from various other regions. Today, Opatija’s botanical garden, set on the property originally owned by a Hungarian merchant who made most of his fortune selling Szegedi paprika to the Americas, bear the name “American Gardens”. Opatija might be the Pearl of the Adriatic, but its garden hides on its coast like a jewel, waiting to be admired.
Groningen’s Historical Hortus Haren
First created in 1642, Hortus Haren in Groningen, Netherlands is the largest botanical garden in the country and one of the most remarkable in Europe. The garden’s Oriental characteristics and design are unique to the continent, designed by a famous Chinese landscape architect.
Designed during the Ming dynasty, the garden is one of the oldest and largest botanical gardens in Holland. A garden with its own cultural diversity, it stands out in more than just beauty.
Botanical Gardens of the University of Coimbra
Founded in 1772, this beautiful riverside garden in the university city of Coimbra, Portugal, and occupies 13 hectares, divided into two parts, sheltering several species of rare birds in their natural environment.
The oldest university in Portugal, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, was first founded in the 13th century in Lisbon, then moved to Coimbra later. The biodiversity of the garden includes plant seeds, birds, and at least six species of squirrels. Started as a learning and scientific exploration tool, the garden has helped and continues to help in the research of different scientific fields within the university. Though not enormous and nestled near Coimbra’s city center, it can seem to visitors like an endless maze. If you do get the chance to see it, keep in mind that you might want to take a couple of days to explore.