Whether you’re in St. Petersburg during the sunny summer months or the wet, cold winter, the Botanical Garden and Museum on Apothecary Island provides a welcome and colorful reprieve. Read on for an overview of the garden’s tumultuous history to its current global acclaim.
Founded in 1714 by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg’s Botanical Garden is among the oldest in the nation. The Botanical Garden is part of the V.L. Komarov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and, as it was known, the Apothecary Garden was prepared as a medicinal herb garden to supply the military. Although that was the original intention, the garden was a prominent leader in worldwide botany studies. The first greenhouse was established in the 1720’s and a decade later began an extensive seed catalog of the current collection and collections from abroad.
Unfortunately, the mid-late 1700’s saw the research facet of the gardens weaken with the dismissal of key scientific academics and overall poor conditions of the greenhouses and gardens. The situation of the gardens improved in the early 1800’s with the appointment of Friedrich Ersnt Ludwig von Fischer as the Director of the Imperial Botanical Garden, bringing in an increase of funds as well as garden space. With this progress, research teams were sent all over the globe to collect seeds and samples. With a brief span between 1855- 1875 as a solely “practical gardening” space, scientific activity recommenced in 1877.
During early 1900’s, the botanical institutions were split in St. Petersburg between the Botanical Garden on Apothecary Island (Аптекарский остров) and the Botanical Museum on Vasilyevsky Island (Васильевский остров). During this time, the garden again suffered from a lack of funds until the Fund of Public Works allocated money for restoration in 1925. The Museum and Garden were reunited in 1931 to become the Botanical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences located on Apothecary Island. During the Great Patriotic War and the Siege of Leningrad, a large portion of the Institute’s collection was ruined. In 1943, repleting the collection began and has persisted until the present day, with 25 greenhouses, numbering more than 7.5 thousand plant species covering around one hectare.
The V.L.K. Institute is comprised of many departments and laboratories: the museum and garden have their own departments while there are laboratories for the different plant species (paleobotany, steppe zone vegetation, ecology of plant communities, etc). Among the scientific activity at the Institute, periodicals, councils, and conferences flourish. The Botanical Garden celebrated their 300th anniversary in June 2014 with an international interdisciplinary scientific conference. Whether you are interested in botany or simply enjoying the flowers, the Botanical Garden offers an attraction for all.
The tropical and subtropical greenhouses are open to the public, with the water-plant greenhouse reopening in June 2016.
For the museum, adults: 60 rubles, and children/students: 40 rubles.
For one greenhouse visit, adults: 250 rubles, children 3-14 years old: 120 rubles.
For a second greenhouse on the same day, adults: 200 rubles, children 100 rubles.
For the garden park, adults: 70 rubles children: 30 rubles.
To photograph, you should pay 90 rubles, and to video would be 140 rubles.
Note! Student prices are only valid during the weekdays, not on the weekends – which would be 110 rubles. They only take cash payments, and during most of the year, you need to buy a general park ticket in addition to the greenhouse ticket. Children under three years old are not allowed into the greenhouses, and the museum and greenhouses are not wheelchair accessible.
Want to see more photos from the Botanical Garden? Check out their hashtag #botsad_spb!
Botanical Garden in St. Petersburg
ул. Профессора Попова 2, (Petrogradskaya Metro)
Open 10am – 6pm; Last admission is at 4 pm.
Closed Mondays, Fridays
Tickets start at 40 rubles (see below for details)
Allie Sasek graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and a double minor in Women and Gender Studies and Planning, Public Policy, and Management. She previously studied abroad in St. Petersburg during summer 2014, studied and interned in Warsaw in summer 2015, and will return for SRAS’s Russian Studies Abroad in St. Petersburg for the 2015 fall semester. Allie intends to attend a masters program in Europe, and work as a sustainability consultant for international NGOs, businesses, and governments.