The Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra seems to be the perfect island in the centre of the city, but it is its scientific value that makes it outstandingly unique.
The Botanical Garden occupied a considerable portion of the grounds of the College of São Bento, which had been given over to the University of Coimbra, undergoing extensive remodelling dating from the time of the Marquis de Pombal Reforms (1774).
In 1854, the engineer Pezerat presented his project for a greenhouse (which is still in existence), marking a technological advance in the use of iron and glass in architecture in Coimbra. This building was completed in 1865. The works, carried out between 1944 and 1949, involved the addition of a fountain in the central square, stone benches, a cold greenhouse and the renovation of the thoroughfares between the various sections of the garden and the woodland area.
The survival of some of the buildings of the former Benedictine College, such as the old chapel in the woods, endows the place with a romantic historical air. In addition to the Botanical Garden’s various works of architecture and sculpture, there is an extensive biological heritage, involving thousands of ancient plant species.