The Orto Botanico of Palermo was first established in the late 18th century as a way to display, collect, categorize, and propagate new plant specimens imported from colonial territories. This was a part of the process of building an empire, and in direct relationship with similar efforts to develop empirical libraries, museums, and universities. Gardens like this relied on similar strategies to organize knowledge, using neoclassical architectural elements, alongside the classification system developed by Linnaeus. They also depended on a steady stream of new specimens procured through colonial exploration and trade. The idea of a civic garden as laboratory however has other influences here in Sicily too, including the medieval gardens associated with church monasteries, and the Islamic tradition of sacred gardens, emphasizing the movement of water.