Planned as a bathhouse by Karl Ludwig von Zanth in 1846, the Moorish Villa was then, however, built as living quarters with a glasshouse. It was first intended to be a bathhouse because mineral springs had been discovered in the adjacent Rosenstein Park. Rosenstein Palace was already standing in Rosenstein Park, and served the King as a summer residence.
Today Wilhelma uses the Moorish Villa as a glasshouse consisting of 5 separate rooms and the House for Nocturnal Animals. After being destroyed in the Second World War, the building was rebuilt in 1971 and renovated in 2002.
The term "Moorish Villa" is often used differently at Wilhelma: generally speaking to mean the whole construction, but sometimes only to mean the central part of the building. The latter possibility thus refers to a specific house within the botanical section. In the times of Wilhelm I of Württemberg, the central living quarters were already adjoined on both sides by glasshouses. The glasshouses, both of which ended on their outer wing with a glass cupola, are impressive constructions of glass and cast iron.
From a botanical viewpoint the complete construction accommodates five autonomous plant houses. Plants are shown in each of them that belong to a super-ordinate theme. Coming from the northern entrance, one first reaches the Cactus Cupola House, then entering the room with the Tropical Crop Plants. In the centre there follows the Moorish Villa (which here means only the central part of the construction), where you will find the famous giant titan plant. The next section is the glasshouse with tropical ferns, and in the final room, also with a glass cupola, we have the tree ferns.
The five plant houses contain, all in all, more than 1,000 tropical and sub tropical plants belonging to over 350 different species.
In the central room of the Moorish Villa construction, you will also find birds and the Department for Nocturnal Animals. Via the upper gallery one reaches a narrow staircase, which descends into that realm of darkness.