This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Since the mid-16th century, the University of Debrecen has served as the intellectual center of Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city and at one time, its capital. The University has quite the reputation as a leading institution for the arts, sciences, and medicine. But for all of its prestige, it’s also known worldwide for another rather prickly distinction: its cactus collection.
The University has long been an innovator in science education, specifically botany. The first Hungarian book on botany was published here in 1578 and since then, the study of plant science has flourished within the University’s campus. So it’s no surprise that well into the 21st century, the University continues to gain recognition for its flora and fauna.
Located just behind its main campus building, the University’s Botanical Garden continues to enchant students and visitors alike. Built in 1928, the current Garden landscape is a relatively recent design, created after the garden that was originally there – used by the Reformed College since 1844 – began to disappear. Around that time, the city donated 42 acres of land to the University, and provided an opportunity to revitalize the garden space.
After the Garden was built, the University assigned professors and botanists to take care of it. Within its first decade, a rock garden was added, as well as a network of aqueducts throughout the grounds. Cultivation of the garden was suspended during World War II, but resumed within a couple years. In 1949, the Garden proudly listed 1,400 plant species.
Today, nearly 6,000 registered plant species call the Garden home. Among the thousands of plants, the cactus collection – which currently tallies at approximately 1,300 cacti – has gained worldwide recognition. So if you find yourself touring the University campus, be sure to stop by the Botanical Garden, just remember not to touch those spiky specimens!
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