When you alight from the S-bahn at the aptly named Botanischer Garten station, take a moment to notice the Jugendstil structure of the station, this might give you a clue as to when the surrounding area was built up.
A few streets removed from the station, the garden itself has an impressive history that dates to the 1600s though it was moved to its present location in the 1890s. The German botanist Adolf Engler established the 43 hectare gardens as a place of learning and as a home for botanical specimens brought back from the German colonies. The grounds are laid out geographically with over 23000 botanical specimens from the various continents arranged around an Italian garden, an arboretum and a large pond.
The real attraction here is the Tropenhaus, one of the largest green houses in the world. First opened in 1906 and renovated in 2009, the Tropenhaus is a transparent shell built without obstructing pillars which provides simulated micro-climates to a variety of plant life. Inside climbing vines reach to the 25 meter high ceiling; giant bamboo tower over bromeliads, hanging orchids and birds of paradise. A waterfall cascades over rocks into a carp pond; Epiphytes parasitically grow from the trunks of banyans. In the desert house thorny cacti remind you not to get too close.
The Botanic Garden belongs to the Free University of Berlin and is actually a learning institution. A Botanical Museum, which currently features an exhibition entitled The World of Palms, is also housed here.