The National Botanic Garden of Israel, also known as the Botanical Garden of the Hebrew University, is the first botanical garden in Israel.
It covers over 6 acres and houses more than 950 plant species, representing over 40% of the wild plant species of Israel, approximately 240 are considered rare or endangered.
The Garden is an natural hideaway within an urban landscape, a sanctuary for many animals and endangered plant species.
Many of the species are very rare or non-existent in the wild.
Moreover, the decline in open spaces throughout the country and continuing environmental degradation increases the significance of the Botanical Garden.
Within the Garden are ancient burial caves from the Second Temple period.
Buried in these caves is Nicanor of Alexandria, who brought the copper doors of the Temple.
Today, visitors can see reconstructed ossuaries within the burial caves, since the originals have been moved for display to the British Museum in London.
Since then, Zionist leaders Dr. Yehuda Leib Pinsker and Menachem Ussishkin have also been buried in the Nicanor caves.
The combination of natural flora with history and archaeology genuinely reflects the characteristic landscape of the Israeli homeland.
This botanical garden is unique as an ecological conservatory for a diverse collection of plant groups, preserving authentic Israeli species within their natural habitats from around the country.
This includes, for example, Mediterranean scrub, desert grasslands, Negev mountain ranges, coastal sand dunes, bodies of water and traditional orchards, preserving their natural appearance in accordance with the changing seasons.
Multiple phytogeographical areas can be represented at the Botanical Garden thanks to its geographical location on Mount Scopus – where divergent climates come together.
The Garden was created in 1931 by the founder of the Hebrew University Department of Botany and a leading researcher in the fields of botany and phytogeography in Israel.
From the Israel’s 1948 War of Independence until Jerusalem was reunified in the 1967 Six-Day War the Garden was under Jordanian jurisdiction.
The garden was the first home of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo from 1947 shortly before the siege on Jerusalem.
The zoo was moved in 1950 when the United Nations intervened on the grounds of animal cruelty.
During Jordanian rule, the garden was also neglected and in 1954 the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens was opened.
In 1958 two Israelis soldiers were killed in the garden by Jordanian ambush.
Hebrew University decided to renew the National Botanic Garden of Israel in 1980.
Since then, the Garden is the first in the world to be recognized as an “ecological garden,” designed for nature conservation.
For visiting information see the Botanical Gardens website.