It has become an all too familiar sight in the last year or so; spotting someone with their face pressed hard against the padlocked gates of the Jardim Botânico in Príncipe Real desperate to catch a glimpse inside. The botanical garden, which is only about a ten minute walk from Lumi, was closed for renovation back in 2016. The plan was to shut for about nine months but the work has taken much longer than that and the garden has been closed ever since.
To be fair, the renovation was long overdue. While Jardim Botânico was once considered one of the most notable botanical gardens in Europe (with over 18,000 species, many endangered) lack of investment and staff shortages had left it in real need of a facelift. Fast forward two years – and the injection of a 500 thousand euro government grant – and the first stage of works is now complete. The leaking irrigation system has been fixed, electricity introduced, paths renovated, and there is a brand new amphitheatre which will be used for shows. There is more to come but the next stage can continue with visitors. SO those huge iron gates have finally been flung open and the garden is officially open again…
It really has been worth the wait. This is such an extraordinary space in the heart of the city; a serene (and fascinating) retreat that will come into its own in the summer months.
The diversity and abundance of plants is incredible – far too many to talk about here, but all clearly labelled and easily accessible.
If possible, don’t visit when you first get to town. Wait until later in the trip – when you’ve spent a few days exploring and probably overdone the shops; that’s the time to head up the hill and slip away for a while into the peaceful surroundings of this really quite special garden. The perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city…
Let us know what you think!
All images by João Miguel Simões @jmigsimoes