Horus Botanicus is a quiet sanctuary amidst the traffic and noise of central Amsterdam. Located behind brick walls in the Plantage district, 4000 species call its 7 greenhouses and expansive outdoor gardens home.
The gardens were founded 1638 when the city needed an herb garden where doctors and pharmacists could prepare prescription medicines. The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) was charged with bringing back any seeds and plants that could be useful for commerce or medicine, and as their trade routes expanded, so did the collection of plants.
The current layout dates back to 1863 when the straight rows were replaced with winding paths. Today, the gardens feel a world away from the busy city on the other side of its walls. Take time to wander along the paths both inside and out. Be sure to stop by the butterfly house, but Kindra cautions against angering the carnivorous butterflies (kidding, but she did fool me). Be sure not to miss seeing one of the oldest potted plants in the West, an Eastern Cape giant cycad that was brought from South Africa to the Netherlands by the VOC about 300 years ago.
De Hortus is open from 9-5 on weekdays and 10-5 on weekends and holidays. Admission is 7.50 euros. While in this part of Amsterdam, consider a stop at the Hermitage Museum and the Dutch Resistance Museum. Wish you could see more tulips? Be sure to check out the Keukenhof Gardens if you are here in the spring.
This is perfect way to feel like you have escaped to the jungle without ever leaving the city.