Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Richmond, United Kingdom

You might not think of a botanic garden as a historic site, but the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) have a firm place in the history of gardening. Established from a collection of royal estates in 1759, they demonstrate different garden styles through the centuries. The gardens are also home to 44 historic buildings, including royal residences, Victorian greenhouses and garden follies.

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Founded: 18th century
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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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User Reviews

Ertug Ekenler (2 years ago)
Better than I expected. Was so great fun that I became a member. Now I can see Kew Gardens every season. The new children's playground looked fine, though it was not open when we visited (due to open on 18 May 2019). That should be great fun for the small ones too.
Will Hazelton (2 years ago)
Was so surprised by just how enormous this place is! Absolutely fantastic day with friends and family. Would recommend getting up early and taking a picnic. It's so huge and beautiful you could spend a whole day there. But be warned dogs and ball games aren't allowed. A must see if you are in London with a spare weekend. The value for money is amazing!
G Baptiste (2 years ago)
Kew is magical. It's stunningly beautiful. There's so much to explore. Check out the palm House, but be prepared to sweat! It has the most amazing plant life and lots of info which is great for school trips. It's a great day out if you're alone with friends or family.
Dilal Ahmed (2 years ago)
This is a great way to spend a day in London. The gardens are lovely. We booked online so entry was slightly cheaper & straightforward. We also booked the land train which we found very useful as it gave an overview of the whole gardens - which are extensive - and then we used it to hop on/off as required. It was helpful to have the main features pointed out by the train driver. Facilities are excellent.The treetop walk, while not extensive, was worthwhile. I would have enjoyed booking in for one of the events but that would require more planning than we did.
Philip Long (2 years ago)
I went to Kew today to visit the orchid display but I forgot what a wonderful place Kew is to visit. I found that the new greenhouse was spectacular. The overall care and attention is 1st class. Staff were extremely friendly and polite at the entrance. We parked which was not too expensive at £7-00 a day. My only complaint is that the restaurant serves the most appalling self-service coffee. The cakes were lovely. I would suggest people bring food with you as you could really have a lovely picnic in the warm weather. if you really like coffee avoid the self-service one but a great overall day. I could see they are in the process of building a play area for children which looks amazing. Well worth the money and time. I am definitely going back soon with a flask.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.