The Royal Gardens were commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838 and completed by 1840. Designed by the German gardener Schmidt who imported over 500 species of plants and a variety of animals including peacocks, ducks, turtles. Unfortunately for many of the plants, the dry mediterranean climate proved too harsh and they did not survive; then animals continue to thrive. The upper gardens behind the Old Palace were fenced off and were the private refuge of the King and Queen.
In 1878, the Danish architect Theophil Freiherr von Hansen designed the neo-classical Zappeion Hall. It was named after Evangelos Zappas, an Epirote businessman who was instrumental in starting the Zappian Olympic Games, a precursor to the modern Olympic Games. The Zappeion was the Olympic village for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens and also as a venue for the fencing events. Starting in the 1920s, the area in front of the Zappeion was a major transportation hub for trams and buses. Today it is used for public exhibitions.