Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam)

Hortus Botanicus is a botanical garden in the Plantage district of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. One of the oldest in the world, it is one of Amsterdam's major tourist attractions.

Hortus Botanicus
Hortus Botanicus entrance
Location within the city center of Amsterdam
LocationPlantage Middenlaan L2
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Coordinates52.3668°N 4.9079°E / 52.3668; 4.9079
Typebotanic garden
Visitors229.850 (2014)[1]
DirectorTaeke Kuipers (until March 1, 2018)[2][3]


The Amsterdam city council founded the Hortus Botanicus (initially named the Hortus Medicus) in 1638 to serve as an herb garden for doctors and apothecaries, as botanical extracts were the primary treatments for illnesses during this time period.[4] Physicians and pharmacists each received their training and took their exams there.[5]

The garden's initial collection was amassed during the 17th century through plants and seeds brought back by traders from the Dutch East India Company for use as medicines and potential commercial possibilities. A single coffee plant in Hortus's collection served as the parent for the entire coffee culture in Central and South America.

Likewise, two small potted oil palms brought back from Mauritius produced seeds which were propagated throughout all of Southeast Asia, becoming a major source of revenue in the Dutch East Indies and present-day Indonesia.

In 1646, Johannes Snippendaal was appointed director of the garden. During his tenure, he determined the collection comprised 796 plant species, most of which were medicinal plants.[4] Many of these plants are still grown at the Hortus Botanicus in its Snippendaal garden, referred to as the 'The 17th century pharmacopoeia of Amsterdam’.[4]

The hexagonal pavilion dates from the late 1600s. The entrance gate was built in the early 1700s. The Orangery dates from 1875, and the Palm House and Hugo de Vries Laboratory - both created in Amsterdam School expressionist architecture - date from 1912 and 1915.[6]

Hugo de Vries became the director of the Hortus Botanicus between 1885 and 1918, bringing international attention to the garden.[5] The garden's governing board directed the construction of the Palm House and laboratory in order to keep the professor there.[5]

in 1987 the garden almost went bankrupt when the University of Amsterdam stopped paying its expenses, but a community of individual supporters prevented its closure. Now the Hortus Botanicus is supported by the Amsterdam City Council as well.


Hortus Botanicus is now a popular attraction for both Dutch and international visitors. The collection is famous for some of its trees and plants, some of which are endangered. Well-known plants and trees can be found there, like the Persian ironwood tree.

Recent additions to Hortus include a huge hothouse, which incorporates three different tropical climates. There are also two halls at the garden which are used for conferences and ceremonies, and a cafe, popular as a meeting point for locals.


  1. "Visitor Insight". amsterdam.toeristischebarometer.nl. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  2. "Personal & Contact". de Hortus. De Hortus. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  3. Director Hortus Taeke Kuipers stops
  4. "Key collections". De Hortus. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  5. "Crown jewels". De Hortus. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  6. Official website about Herbs Culture in Amsterdam.

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