Botanical garden in Vácrátót
The richest botanic garden of Hungary, having more than 12 000 species in it and presenting them in the frame of a beautiful landscape garden, was founded in the first half of the last century, in the style of the English gardens of Georgian age. In 1870 the garden came into the possession of Count Sándor Vigyázó, devotee of science, who, together with Vilmos Jámbor, famous landscape gardener of his age, have it transformed into a rich botanic garden.
In the early years of this century the garden was famous for the richness of its tree-species, rock-gardens, greenhouses. The Vigyázó family passed his estate to the Academy of Sciences, but the botanic garden in Vácrátót got, after many mishaps, into the administration of the Museum of Natural Sciences only in the May of 1946, and laying the foundations of the botanic garden was started in 1950. In 1952, when the Hungarian Academy of Sciences took possession of the estate and in this place the Research Institute for Botany was established the garden began to develop rapidly.
The war damages having been reconstructed and the ruins and bush cleared away, the garden was started to be restored to its original beauty according to the original plans but with a lot more species. In 1961 it opened its doors to the public and since then has been an organic part of the Research Institute for Botany, a live laboratory, experimental area of the researches.
The climate and soil conditions of the botanic garden are rather adverse. The annual precipitation is somewhat more than 500 mm, characteristic to the dry areas of the Great Hungarian Plains, with rather extreme climate, caracterized by long summer-droughts, and the maximum temperature approaches 40 °C in extreme cases, while the winter minimum can drop even to -30 °C . There is a scattered snow cover, early and late frosts and, in the low-lying areas of the garden, fogs are frequent.
The soil of the garden is calcareous windblown sand, bound sand and clay. The natural vegetation in the closer environs of the botanic garden reflects well these extreme conditions, as on the natural sandy lands at the end of the garden leather grasses are fluttering in the wind and the near-by hills are covered with oakwood of dry loess-land. A fresh dash of colour is represented only by the narrow strips of riverside forests along the streams and by the bogs to be still found here and there the remains of which can be observed also along the garden lake and stream in the huge specimens of the Hungarian ash (Fraxinus angustifolia .ssp. pannonica) and the robur (Quercus robur). The tree-vegetation of the garden also provides a home for a rich animal world, 53 bird species nest in this area.
The extreme factors preclude growing several plants well-known from botanic gardens of more favourable climate (e.g. Rhododendrons, Azaleas), and the plant growth of the garden can be maintained only by regular careful watering. At the same time the visitor can see almost a thousand characteristic species of the Hungarian flora here, not to mention the interesting plants of the Russian steppes, Central-Asian mountains or those of the Rocky Mountains in America, and the trees and shrubs from the Far East.
The garden (map) with its lawn, trees, lakes, interesting and beautiful plants is waiting in an area of 29 hectares for those wishing to refresh away from the harms of civilization or the interested tourists, students wishing to study, in a distance 35 kms away from the capital.
The botanic garden in Vácrátót can be reached by road from Budapest via the villages Fót - Csomád - Őrbottyan, from the North via the villages Vác and Csörög, while from the East, leaving Route 3 via Gödöllő and Veresegyháza. The garden can be approached by bus from the station of Metro 3. in Városháza. You can tavel by train from the railwaystation Budapest-Nyugati to Vácrátót. From here buses usually go to botanical garden (3 km).