Pretoria, also known as Jacaranda City because of the blooming purple Jacaranda trees during October and November, is South Africa’s administrative capital as well as the country’s capital city.
Situated to the North of Johannesburg, Gauteng, the city compliments what Johannesburg has to offer and is only about an hour’s drive away. Most of the foreign consulates and embassies in South Africa are situated in Pretoria.
Midrand, a part of Pretoria bordering on Johannesburg is the country’s “Silicon Valley” where most technology companies, warehouses and factories are situated.
The two most popular sports in Pretoria are rugby and football and the city hosted matches during both the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The University of South Africa has its main campus in Pretoria. The Muckleneuk Campus is a famous landmark in the city as the home of the one of the world’s oldest open public distance learning tertiary institutions. UNISA was founded in 1873 and remains one of the biggest distance learning universities in the world.
Where is Pretoria?
The city has a population of 741,651, and forms part of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, which has a population of almost three million people.
The most expensive suburb in Pretoria is Waterkloof, which was established in the nineteenth century and named after the original farm which stood there. Many of the homes in Waterkloof are Cape Dutch style villas, whilst the British Empire also left its imprint on the area with many of the streets named after British royalty. Waterkloof is an Afrikaans word meaning water ravine, around which the first village was built.
The Gautrain travels from Johannesburg to Pretoria, with several Gautrain buses operating around the stations. However, the most ideal form of transport is by private vehicle. South Africa’s highways and freeways are among the most well-built and structured in the world, making it easy to get around.
Top 5 Things to do in Pretoria
The Voortrekker Monument is a large granite structure on the top of a hill which was erected to commemorate the Afrikaaners who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854 and moved into the interior of South Africa, establishing numerous new towns on what was called The Great Trek.
The crater is located 40km east of the city and was created by a meteorite which hit the surface of the area around 200,000 years ago. It is believed that the meteorite was between 30 and 50 meters in diameter, whereas the crater has a diameter of 1.13 kilometres and is 100 metres deep. The name Tswaing means “place of salt” in Tswana, representing the salt harvesting which was performed by the Tswana and Sotho people in the area between 1200 and 1800 AD.
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
The Pretoria Zoo is the largest zoo in South Africa and occupies a space of 85 hectares. It was founded in 1899 and is home to over 9,000 animals and 7,000 species. The two halves of the zoo are separated by the Apies (or “ape’) River, one side is flat whilst the other side is situated on the slopes of a hill. The zoo has over six kilometres of pathways and visitors who prefer not to walk may also rent a golf cart. The zoo also has a cable car which runs from the top of the hill to the zoo’s entrance.
Church Square is the historic centre of Pretoria where the first church was built in 1856. The church burnt down in 1882 but the centre is surrounded by historically and architecturally important buildings including The Palace of Justice, the Old Council Chambers, the Old Capitol Theatre, and the General Post Office. A statue of Paul Kruger, Boer leader the president of the South African Republic, is situated there surrounded by four statues of anonymous Boer soldiers.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
The Groenkloof Nature Reserve was the first game sanctuary established in Africa in 1895 by President Paul Kruger. The wildlife at the sanctuary includes zebras, wildebeests, Giraffes and Jakel, among other bucks and species.
Nearest Airport to Pretoria
The nearest international airport to Pretoria is OR Tambo International in Johannesburg which is situated 47 kilometres from the city. Commuters can travel to the airport on the Gautrain or drive there.
Lanseria, a smaller airport situated 35 kilometres south-west of Pretoria caters for domestic flights and short international flights to South Africa’s neighbouring countries.
Pretoria has a rich environment which represents South Africa’s diverse and multi-cultural identity and the roots of the country’s Western political history as well as the natural heritage.