In the middle of hectic, buzzing Palermo there is an oasis of calm and a temple of peace at the Botanical Gardens. Established for the University of Palermo as part of the Botany and Medicinals program the park is still part of the university's prestige.

The garden was started in 1789 and sits next to the aristocratic Villa Giulia. The temple-like edifice called the Ginnasio was designed by French architect Leon Dufourney, an archeologist who studied the Greek art in Sicily and envisioned a "temple of learning" that would house classrooms and a library. The cupola's frescoes were painted by Palermo artist Giuseppe Velasco. It is a beautiful building that sets the tone for the garden. Around the grounds are cast iron and glass greenhouses from the 1800s, sculptures and other decorative elements to embellish the park. The ruins of the Temple of Dionisio lend an air of mystery.

The city's favorable climate allows for a vast variety of plants, including Mediterranean, tropical, sub-tropical and exotic species. There are 12,000 species in all spread around the 10-hectares park (24,000 acres). Ponds and fountains and lawns and quiet corners lend more interest to various zones. Wandering the garden gives you a sense of quiet green space, despite being in the heart of Palermo, next to the Kalso district.

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Via Lincoln, 2.

Ph. (+39) 091 238 91236.

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