The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, one of the greatest tropical botanical gardens in the world, houses some of the rarest species of plants from the flora of Brazil and other countries, and many species of tropical birds, fish and mammals.
The garden is located at the foot of Corcovado Mountain and occupies about 142 hectares. It is part of the Tijuca National Park (Floresta da Tijuca), home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife endemic of the Atlantic Rainforest.
The garden was founded on 1808 by Dom João, at the time Prince Regent of the United Kingdom of Brazil and Portugal, later known (1816-1822) as John VI, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.
|The beautiful cast-iron fountain was made in England. It was installed at the Rio de Janeiro garden in 1905. The 4 muse figures represent music, art, poetry and science.|
Dom João had arrived in Brazil after leaving Portugal on November of 1807 when the Napoleonic forces invaded his country. Before he could be deposed by the invading French army and to avoid becoming a prisoner of Napoleon, the Prince Regent ordered the transfer of the Portuguese royal court to Brazil. The Royal family left Lisbon under the protection of the British Royal Navy to establish a government in exile based at Rio de Janeiro.
At the beginning the grounds were Dom João’s private gardens where he intended to acclimatize spices such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg that were brought from the East Indies. Initially known as the Royal Orchard, when Dom Joao returned to Portugal in 1822 the garden was open to the public and renamed as the Royal Botanical Garden. In 1890, at the time Brazil became a Republic, the “Royal” part of the garden’s name was dropped.Currently the Botanic Garden comprises about 83 hectares of tropical forest and 54 hectares of cultivated gardens including paths, lagoons, fountains, sculptures, conservatories and several historic buildings. The gardens contain about 6500 species of plants including indigenous resources of the Brazilian Atlantic floristic region and exotic vegetation introduced from other tropical regions. Many of the species are in open gardens; however, a large number of plants are housed in greenhouses especially dedicated to plant groups such as bromeliads, orchids, cacti and succulent and carnivorous plants.
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