Hortus Botanicus Leiden in 1610. Print by Jan Cornelisz. Woudanus and Willem Isaacsz. van Swanenburg.
Hortus Botanicus (behind Observatory), ca. 1920-1940
In 1587 the young
University of Leiden asked for permission from the mayor of Leiden to establish a hortus academicus behind the university building, for the benefit of the medical students. The request was granted in 1590, and the famous
Carolus Clusius (1526–1609) was appointed as
prefect. Clusius arrived in Leiden in 1593. His knowledge, reputation, and international contacts allowed him to set up a very extensive
collection. Clusius also urged the
Dutch East India Company (VOC) to collect plants and (dried) plant specimens in the colonies. The original garden set up by Clusius was small (about 35 by 40 meters), but contained more than 1000 different plants.
The collecting of
tropical (from the
sub-tropical (from the
Cape Colony) plants was continued under Clusius' successors. Especially
Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738, prefect from 1709–1730), contributed greatly to the fame of the Hortus with his efforts to collect new plants and specimens, and with his publications, such as a catalog of the plants then to be found in the Hortus.
Another major contribution to the collections was made by
Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German physician who was employed on
Japan) by the VOC from 1823 until his expulsion by Japan in 1829. During that period he collected many dried and living plants from all over Japan (as well as animals,
ethnographical objects, maps, etc.), and sent them to Leiden.
greenhouses appeared in the Hortus in the second half of the 17th century, the monumental
Orangery was built between 1740 and 1744. From its original plan the Hortus was expanded in 1736 by
Adriaan van Royen and
Carl Linnaeus, and in 1817 by
Theodor Friedrich Ludwig Nees von Esenbeck and
Sebald Justinus Brugmans. In 1857, a part was used for building the new Leiden Observatory.