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With 43 hectares containing 22,000 plants from all over the world, Berlin’s World Heritage Botanical Garden is not only one of the world’s biggest – it’s also one of the most impressive.

Located in the Steglitz district, the garden dates back to the 17th Century, when it was used to grow herbs for the royal family. Today it’s owned and managed by the city’s Freie Universität (Free University) and features enough attractions to keep visitors busy all day long: rock gardens, an arboretum, a garden with medicinal and poisonous plants, a Romanesque rose arbour, a smelling and touching garden for the visually impaired… plus 15 striking 19th-century steel-and-glass greenhouses containing a multitude of tropical plants.

One of the most romantic times to visit is on the annual Botanical Night, this year held 13 July. From 5 pm, the gardens are embellished with and theatre performances, food and drink stalls, special illuminations and even mythical creatures. Botanists and gardeners run guided tours, and at nightfall visitors can watch an elaborate firework display over the Italian garden.

Though the event draws up to 10,000 people, the gardens are vast enough to absorb the crowds and not feel cramped. If you’re not yet in town, don’t worry: the event also kickstarts the venue’s popular Summer Open-Air Concert series . The impressive line-up includes Berlin's own Trio Fado, who give famous fados (Portuguese songs) new arrangements (19 July), and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchestra playing the works of Roussel, Saint-Saens and Mozart (23 August).

Tickets for the Botanical night cost 38 euros and can be bought via the official website or at the box office (49-18-05-44-70). Children under 14 are free with proof of age.

Tickets for the Summer Concert series cost 15 euros per event and can be bought in advance from Konzertkasse COCA 36 or at the box office on the day of.

Paul Sullivan is the Berlin Localite for BBC Travel. He also runs/writes slowtravelberlin.com.

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