On a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, I had a chance to re-visit Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden), one of my favorite places from childhood.
It was inaugurated by King Dom João VI of Portugal in 1808, initially to grow seasonings brought from India. During the following monarchy of Dom Pedro I, the place was open to the public, and in 1937 was declared a national park. It is now home to a variety of Brazilian flora as well as historical and artistic monuments.
For those who are into botany, this is an incredible place to visit with an assortment of bromeliads, orchids, carnivorous plants and cactus.
Each time I visit Jardim Botânico, something different captures my attention. And there are plenty of attractions to see such as several fountains, sculptures, and greenhouses.
But most of all, the trees that are so huge, that you wonder how many years ago they were planted.
One of the main species of trees there is the “Pau Brazil”, which is such a huge part of the history of Brazil —and the reason why Brazil has its name —since it was found all over the coast when the country was first colonized.
The original house near the entrance was renovated in 1992. Today, it serves as a research center, including the most complete botanical library in the country with over 32,000 volumes.
A lake with turtles nearby also reminds you of the past.
The tall palm trees, also known as Imperial palms, were planted by Dom João in 1809, and are today the main symbol of the garden. Native of Central America and Guiana, these palm trees can reach up to 50 meters in height.
There is a lake called Lago Frei Leandro, where you can find Victoria Régia, a typical plant from the Amazon River with very large green leaves that flats on the water’s surface.
In this ever-changing world, a visit to Jardim Botânico is a reminder that some things will always stay the same. With a closer look to all these gorgeous palm trees, plants, and gardens comes the inevitable realization that Jardim Botânico is another wonderful landmark in Rio. And just as you do when you visit Christ the Redeemer statue, or the Sugar Loaf mountain, it’s always refreshing to return.
For more info about Jardim Botânico, please go to www.jbrj.gov.br/