Pretoria Tourist Attractions
Pretoria, situated in the fertile valley of the Apies River, at the foot of the Magaliesberg range, is the administrative capital of South Africa and the seat of government for six months in the year, alternating with Cape Town.
Although Pretoria is so close to Johannesburg, the two cities could scarcely be more different. Pretoria, with the largest area of any South African town, is a city of civil servants and diplomats, trim residential districts and beautiful parks and gardens. It is also an important industrial town (iron and steel, automobile manufacture, cement production) and an educational and cultural center. The University of Pretoria was founded in 1930; and UNISA, the University of South Africa, is one of the largest open universities in the world, with over 100,000 students.The area round Pretoria was originally occupied by the Ndebele, whose women are famed for their skill in decorating the façades of their houses. The first voortrekkers arrived in the area, then sparsely populated, in 1827. Pretoria was founded in 1855 by the Boer general Marthinus Wessel Pretorius and named after his father Andries Pretorius, whose victory in the battle of Blood River had made possible the establishment of an independent white settlement in the Transvaal. In 1860 Pretoria became capital of the Transvaal and in 1910 the seat of government of the Union of South Africa.This beautiful, sunny and colorful garden city with a tranquil air has numerous historic buildings, museums and well kept parks and gardens. It is at its most beautiful in October when its thousands of mauve-flowered jacaranda trees are in bloom.It is not difficult to find your way about the city, which is laid out on a regular grid, but visitors doing their sightseeing on foot will discover that even within the city center the distances to be covered are quite considerable.
Prominently situated south of the city center is the Voortrekker Monument, built in 1949 to commemorate the voortrekkers, the Boers who in the mid 19th C pushed northward into unknown territory. A ponderous square granite structure 40m/130ft high stands on a base 40m sq/430ft sq.Steps lead up to the Hall of Heroes, with 27 marble reliefs depicting the Great Trek of 1838. Through an opening in the floor can be seen a slab of granite in the vault below with the inscription "Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika" ("We are for you, South Africa").The monument is surrounded by a wall depicting ox-wagons - representing the trek wagons which the Boers drew up in a circle to form a defensive laager.There is a museum illustrating this period of South African history.
The Union Buildings (by Sir Herbert Baker, 1913), set in beautiful gardens, are commandingly situated on Meintjieskop Hill on the east side of the city. This impressive range of sandstone buildings is the seat of government and of Parliament (though in the first half of the year Parliament sits in Cape Town). Here too are housed the state archives.In the gardens which slope down in terraces to Church Street are the Delville Wood Memorial, commemorating the South African soldiers who fell in the First World War, statues of the South African prime ministers Louis Botha, J. B. M. Hertzog and J. C. Smuts, and a Police Memorial.
National Botanic Gardens
The Pretoria National Botanic Gardens with 77ha/190ac in area are the largest in South Africa. The plants are grouped according to their climatic region (the savannas of the Karoo, the coastal forests, the grassland plains of Namibia).The Gardens feature over half of the country's tree species as well as cycads, aloes and other interesting collections. Paved nature trails give access to the natural vegetation of the rocky ridge above the garden. Altogether there are 5,000 species of plants, including 300 indigenous species of trees.
Pretoria Art Museum
The Pretoria Art Museum has with numerous works by South African artists such as Pierneef, Frans Oerder and Anton van Wouw plus the Michaelis Collection of Dutch and Flemish masters and temporary exhibitions.
Address: Corner of Schoeman and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Box 40925, Pretoria, Gauteng 0083, South Africa
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Wed: 10am-8pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Human Right's Day - South Africa (Mar 21), Constitution Day - South Africa (Apr 27), National Women's Day - South Africa (Apr 19), Family Day - South Africa (Apr 8), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Youth Day - South Africa (Jun 16), Heritage Day - South Africa (Sep 24), Day of Goodwill - South Africa (Dec 26), Day of Reconciliation - South Africa (Dec 16), Good Friday - Christian, Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in ZAR: Adult R6.00, Child R4.00
Facilities: Gift shop
The beautifully laid out Magnolia Dell gardens are seen at their best when the magnolias are in bloom in spring. There is a small lake in the gardens. An "Art in the Park" show is held here on the first and last Saturdays in the month.
Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary (area 11ha/27ac) is named after the South African ornithologist who wrote the best known handbook on the birds of South Africa.Over 100 indigenous species of birds and numerous other animals can be seen here in their natural surroundings.On the edge of the sanctuary is a reservoir, on the shores of which are hides for bird-watchers.
Anton van Wouw House
Faerie Glen Nature Reserve
At the eastern end of the city area is the very beautiful Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, with a varied flora (including the umbrella tree) and fauna. 150 species of birds have been recorded in the park. It is part of the Moreleta Spruit Nature Trail, an 8km/5mi long hiking trail which runs from Menlyn Drive to Hardekool Avenue, following a winding course along the banks of the stream through ever-changing scenery.
Reached by way of Johan Rissik Drive, from which there are fine views of Pretoria, is Fort Klapperkop, one of the four forts built to defend the town - though it was never called on to perform that function. It is now a military museum with exhibits illustrating the military history of South Africa from 1852 to the end of the Boer War.
Moreleta Spruit Hiking Trail
Moreleta Spruit Hiking Trail is a good trail for birders following a winding course through the habitat of numerous birds.
Map of Pretoria Attractions