Real Jardín Botánico

On July 25, 1774, a Royal Order of Carlos III ordered the transfer of the Botanical Gardens of Migas Calientes to the Paseo del Prado. It was in this way that the Royal Botanical Gardens came into being, which were created “For the health and recreation of the citizens”, as stated in the inscription at its main entrance, the King’s Gate. The initial plan would have been drawn up by the royal architect Francisco de Sabatini, with the assistance of those responsible for the Botanical Gardens, Casimiro Gómez Ortega and José Pérez Caballero, and was concluded around 1776. Lacking unity and harmony, and with a complex design, its execution was heavily criticised and led to its abandonment in 1780. New plans, based on the first, were drawn up, which could be attributed to the architect Juan de Villanueva, and which sought the geometric and rational rigor inherent in an establishment of this type.

Sabatini’s initial project was adhered to with regard to its perimeter lines, its organisation in three planes or terraces, adapted to the natural slope, the essential part of the distribution in squares of the lower portion and the enclosure with its main entrance or Puerta Real, shaped like a triumphal arch. For the ‘Cold Stove’ or Greenhouse Pavilion, which was to crown the main wall of the garden and stand visually and frontally opposite the Puerta Real, like a stage curtain, Juan de Villanueva developed, around 1778, a T-shaped plant volume on a single level.

Real Jardín Botánico photograph