This wonderful botanical garden was originally laid out as a medicinal herb garden in 1638 by the Amsterdam City Council before the collection expanded to include exotic plants from the East India Company's forays into foreign lands. A total of 8,000 species is represented in the ornamental gardens and the three-climate-greenhouse. There's also a butterfly house. One of the treasures, perhaps the oldest potted plant in the world, is a 300-year-old Eastern Cape giant cycad.
The orangery houses a wonderful café terrace—one of the most peaceful places in the city to enjoy a cup of coffee. In fact, the Hortus harbors the leafy descendants of the first coffee plants ever introduced into Europe. A Dutch merchant stole one of the plants from Ethiopia and presented it to the Hortus in 1706; they in turn sent a clipping to a botanist in France, who saw to it that further clippings reached Brazil.