The first Botanical Garden – University of Copenhagen

The first garden

Copenhagen University's first botanical garden, Hortus Medicus, was established 2 August 1600, by royal charter and donation on a plot of ground by Skidenstraede (now Krystalgade), that previously belonged to the Zoological Museum. A residence with an adjacent botanical garden plot was also built for one of the professors, who would "graft and plant especially Simplicia, and where the aforementioned professor [would] keep order".

Blueprint of the first garden. Click on the photo to see it in full size.

No financial means for the maintenance of the garden were provided for in the charter, and it was not until about a hundred years later, in 1696, that one of the garden's supervisors, Rasmus Caspar Bartholin, set up an endowment to pay for a gardener. One of the most prominent men of his time, Ole Worm (1588-1654), attempted a reform around 1620 of the teaching of medicine and botany and revived plans to construct a botanical garden, but the plans eventually came to nothing. In 1621, Worm personally took over management of the neglected garden and introduced a great number of Danish medicinal plants as well as rare foreign species he received from his many professional contacts abroad.

A fully functional garden first became possible in 1769, when Christian VII donated 2,500 daler to the University, the interest from which would be used for the garden's clearing and cultivation. The next year saw the King grant a part of Oeder's Botanical Garden by Amalienborg Palace to the University, as it became clear that plans to expand the old garden would not be realised. In 1778, the first botanical garden was closed down. Christen Friis Rottboell (1727-1797), Professor of Medicine, managed though in the last years to erect a greenhouse.