With their extraordinary glass edifices and exotic animals, plants and ecosystems, Germany's tropical glasshouses are treasure troves of green – and not just in winter.
Did you know that the custom of keeping tropical plants and animals under glass domes dates back to the 19th century in Germany? If you're looking to escape the cold for a while this winter, there are numerous tropical glasshouses across the country that are just waiting to be discovered. At 5,000 square metres, Potsdam Biosphere is one of Germany's largest glasshouses, and features hourly 'thunderstorms', a 14-metre-high treetop walk, tropical animals and around 20,000 tropical plants. Further highlights include a butterfly house and a flight simulator that has visitors soaring above the rainforest. The Tropicarium at the Palmengarten Botanical Gardens in Frankfurt is also well worth a visit. Within only a few steps you can travel from the tropical rainforests of the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia to the flora of deserts and arid regions.
Oases for the senses
Whether it's orchids, the aquatic plant house with exotic butterflies or the Victoriahaus with its tropical water lilies, the greenhouses of Munich's Botanical Gardens take you on a journey through humid tropical regions, baking-hot deserts and tropical – yet cool – mountain forests. Hamburg's Planten un Blomen Park boasts 2,800 square metres of plants from various climate zones, and its marvellous greenhouses are heritage-listed. Their glass panels hang from an external structure, leaving the inside free from any load-bearing elements. In the south of Germany, you will find Stuttgart's Zoological and Botanical Garden. Its Amazon House features parrots and howler monkeys among the dense flora of the South American rainforest, and caimans and tropical fish in the artificial lake. Where will you find your slice of paradise? For more information, visit www.biosphaere-potsdam.de/en or www.palmengarten.de