The Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. You can enjoy a nice stroll around the intimate garden (it’s not big), feel like you’re in the tropics in their tropical greenhouses and sit down for a coffee on their beautiful outdoor terrace.
Every Sunday there is a free tour at the Amsterdam botanical garden at 14.00 (2 pm). Reservations are not necessary, just find your guide under the large oak tree near the entrance. Every Sunday in July and August the Amsterdam botanical garden is open till 19.00 (7 pm) and Dutch jazz artists play live music on the outdoor terrace. Keep informed for their special occasions: the 2-nights blossoming of the giant water lily Victoria, a picknic in the garden, a nightly search for moths, dinner events inside the green house and other special guided tours and events.
History of the Amsterdam botanical gardens
The Amsterdam Hortus Botanical gardens was founded in 1638 as a herb garden for doctors an apothecaries. On their large voyages to exotic places all over the world, seamen and sailing scientists on the ships of the Dutch East Indies Company and the West Indies Company brought back plants and seeds. The Hortus Botanicus collected these and the collection quickly grew. The Amsterdam botanical gardens now contain over 6000 different tropical and indigenous trees and plants.
Strolling around the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus, you walk on lovely bridges, enter a pavilion from the late 1600s, and an entrance gate from the early 1700s.
The charming Orangery dates back from 1875. There are 2 examples of the Amsterdam School architecture: the Palm greenhouse and the Hugo de Vries Laboratory, dating back from 1912 and 1915.
In three climate greenhouse you can experience the warm damp air of the tropics. Children might enjoy the jungle trail or the tree top walk.
A small greenhouse where you can walk around is the butterfly greenhouse. The butterflies lies their eggs on many of the plants. It is then up to the garden staff to collect the eggs and caterpillars. In a small green house, the caterpillars turn into butterflies and are returned to the butterfly green houses.
Among the remarkable plants that the Hortus has collected over the years are plants that catch live insects and digest them. These carnivorous plants have their own ways to catch the bugs: from sticky traps to liquid-filed pitchers that drown the insects.
Interesting as well are many of the trees. There is an enormous Turkish hazel. This tree is more than 200 years old, the oldest and largest of its species in The Netherlands. You can ask for a special folder with a list of the special Amsterdam botanical garden trees.
Giant water lily Victoria
The Amsterdam Hortus is particulary proud of their giant water lily, the Victoria Amazonica. The leaves of this water plant grow as large as 2 meters. The edges of the leaves are turned up.
The flower of the giant water lily opens up during the evening. Each flower blooms for just 2 nights in a row. After the second night, the flower closes and disappears under the water surface.
The Amsterdam botanical garden announces when the event is about to happen and opens in the evening so the audience have a chance to watch the flower blossom.
How to get to the Amsterdam botanical garden
- The Amsterdam botanical garden Hortus Botanicus is located in the centre in the old Jewish Quarter, walking distance from Waterloo Square and Rembrandt Square. The address is Plantage Middenlaan 2a, 1018 DD Amsterdam
- From Amsterdam Central Station you can take tram 9 or 14, get out at Mr. Visserplein.
By metro you can take metro 51, 53 and 54. Get out at Waterlooplein stop (take exit Hortusplantsoen).
- The Amsterdam botanical garden is open every day from 10 to 5.
- The Hortus Botanical is also a venue for dinners and weddings and allows for wedding photos to be taken there.