»The scent of aromatic herbs«

Garden Of Paradise And Medicinal Garden


When visitors make their way from the Spanish Hall via a circular staircase to the Upper Castle, in warm seasons they are confronted with the scent of aromatic herbs.

In the Garden of Paradise and the Medicinal Garden, plants for medicinal use were formerly cultivated. Archduke Ferdinand II was particularly interested in medicine, a fact documented by his remarkable collection of classical and contemporary medical literature in the Ambras library. 

The medicinal book belonging to Philippine Welser, dated to 1560/70 and preserved in the Ambras collections, forms the basis of today’s variety of healing plants.

Philippine’s mother, Anna Welser, had it produced for her daughter. 

In its seclusion and enclosure, the garden is designed as a ‘hortus conclusus’ , a garden of paradise of intimate character.

A walled garden of paradise for the exclusive use of the lady of the house, a ‘giardino segreto’, is typical for early Renaissance gardens: it lies not far from the female domestic rooms in the second storey of the Upper Castle, and near to a small kitchen for the personal use of the lady of the house. 

In the mid-sixteenth century, the life of the European flora was transformed, as plants from the Orient and the New World were introduced. 

These new plants were cultivated in the garden as creations of nature through the art of humankind. An extensive abundance, rarity, and exotic character suggests a comparison with the Chamber of Art and Wonders: if it was a firm component of courtly culture to collect art and ‘wonders of nature’ in the Kunstkammer, by the same token now the creations of the garden – in addition to exotic animals in menageries – were important.