The Jardim Botânico and the Museu Nacional de História Natural offer the Lisbon tourist a place of both peace and fascination in this bustling Portuguese metropolis. Filled with interesting sights from the natural world, here one can feed the mind and replenish the spirit during a visit to this busy city.
Lisbon’s botanic garden is one of the more unusual to be found in a major city. Built in 1873 from designs created by professors in the Faculty of Science at the university, it is in the shape of a large polygon. But that polygon is still more unusual in that it occupies two different levels. In total, those levels cover 10 acres outside the Museu de Ciência da Universidade de Lisboa (Museum of Science at Lisbon University), which houses the natural history museum.
Within those 10 acres one can find flora that reside nowhere else. There are exotic local plant life, such as the Cocos flexuosa, a native palm tree. Numerous colorful flowers dot the walkways, interspersed with fascinating species like the Phoenix.
The elevated portion of the garden holds the Botanical Museum, as well as a Planetarium and the Greenhouse.
The greenhouse within the garden houses some of the Jardim Botânico’s most unusual offerings. These include a large array of prehistoric plants that have remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. Among these are several carnivorous plants that will fascinate both young and old.
In the other section there is an open-air amphitheater where occasionally small concerts are held. Nearby is a lovely pond that offers the perfect compliment to the vegetation.
The Museum of Natural History is housed inside the Museu de Ciência and both are associated with Lisbon’s outstanding university. Like many similar collections around the world, there is an assortment of minerals, rocks and preserved animals. But Lisbon’s natural history museum focuses on those items which could be found in Portugal itself.
There are local species of quartz that glow an eerie orange under fluorescent lights. There are jewels that lay untouched for centuries on the plains near Porto until being collected for the museum. Several species of local rabbit, of a type not usually found outside Portugal, are on display as well.
As part of the Museum of Science, the natural history museum offers Lisbon visitors a glimpse into Portugal’s ancient geological and biological past. Coupled with the lovely grounds outside, the Jardim Botânico, visitors can spend a few hours relaxing and learning all about them.
You can reach the museum and garden via the convenient metro, where you’ll exit at the Rato Station.
“Lisbon – Botanic Garden” by Alotor