The Jacaranda City - our heart, our home
When looking at other cities across South Africa, Pretoria is not the oldest by far, yet it holds a very significant place in history and in every Pretorian’s heart.
Since the city’s inception in 1855, a lot has changed. The streets have over the years played witness to political issues, festivals, marches, love stories and personal stories...
If only the Jacaranda trees could talk.
Established by the then Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) to serve as a central location, Pretoria was chosen for its abundance of water and centralised location.
Pretoria Philadelphia, as the city was once known, was one of the most fortified cities in the world.
To this day, these forts remain as prominent landmarks and popular tourist attractions.
Today, Pretoria is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and boasts well-known landmarks, prominent residents as well as a rich history to be proud of.
Just take Church Square for example. Many historical moments like the 1902 victory parade by the British forces after taking over the country, the inauguration of Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek’s (ZAR) first-ever president or the countless state funerals held on the square, all was frozen in time, right there.
Military parades and countless festivals have run their course in the streets of the capital over the years, all adding to the history and memories edged in the city’s roots.
Known as the administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria is the heartbeat of the country.
Ask any Pretorian and they will tell you about the beauty of the purple streets in October or the smell in the air after the first summer rain.
Oh and the memories! Who still remembers movies and ice skating at Sterland, or the flea market at Sunnypark?
Modern-day Pretoria boasts a vibey atmosphere filled with restaurants, galleries, markets and studios – something for everyone.And although the city is mostly known for its history and famous spots, most Pretorians will agree – the secret to the city’s success lies in its people.
A lot of famous people have called Pretoria their home over the years. Modern celebs include well-known Afrikaans singers, actors, sports stars, international entrepreneurs, politicians like Bobby and Karlien van Jaarsveld, AB de Villiers and Elon Musk, while historic artists like Anton van Wouw, Jacobus Pierneef and even Nettie Cilliers-Barnard also roamed the city’s streets.
The city has also played host to numerous news events that took place over the years.
On 5 March 1997 the Munitoria building, the municipal headquarters of Pretoria at the time, burned down.
It took four days and 252 firefighters to put out the fire completely and the damage was estimated to be R354 million.
Thousands of public records were destroyed. The building was 44 years old. There were no casualties as the fire started after hours. The building was demolished in 2013.
Ten years later, seven-year-old Sheldean Human’s badly decomposing body was found in a storm-water drain near the Fresh Produce Market 15 days after she vanished from a park near her Pretoria Gardens home in February 2007.
Her killer, 30-year-old Andrew Jordaan was arrested after confessing to former police super sleuth, Piet Byleveld.
Jordaan was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was beaten and bludgeoned to death in his prison cell in Leeuwkop prison.
In June 2016, the Tshwane xenophobic riots erupted resulting in the death of at least five people.
Love it or hate it, Pretoria is one of a kind and home to many.
We love Pretoria!
A metro of marvels
Skyscrapers, old historical landmarks and a national heritage site. The city of Pretoria is filled with all types of architectural wonders - beautiful to look at and full of history.
In a century and a half, the city has built an enviable architectural heritage. Its buildings range from 19th century Dutch, German and British colonial architecture to modern, postmodern, neo-modern and art deco architecture styles. And with a good mix of a uniquely South African styles.
Some of the most notable structures in Pretoria include the late 19th century Palace of Justice, the early 20th century Union Buildings, the post-war Voortrekker Monument, the diverse buildings dotting the main campuses of both the University of Pretoria and Unisa, traditional Cape Dutch style Mahlamba Ndlopfu (the President’s House), the more modern SA Reserve Bank (office skyscraper) and the Telkom Lukas Rand transmission tower.
Other well-known structures and buildings include Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the SA State Theatre and the Oliver Tambo building which is the headquarters of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (a good example of neo-modern architecture).
A firm favourite among tourists is definitely the Voortrekker Monument. Declared a heritage site a few years ago, the Voortrekker Monument, which commemorates the pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner, was opened in 1949 in front of a crowd of about 250 000. It was designed by well-known architect Gerhard Moerdyk and was built over two years.
Another interesting, and often overlooked, building is the Kruger house in downtown Pretoria. Built in 1884 and funded, contrary to popular belief, by former president Paul Kruger himself, it is hard to believe that the house was built using cement mixed with milk instead of water - apparently due to the bad quality of the cement at the time.
The ornamental lions on the verandah were given to Kruger on his birthday in 1896 by mining magnate Barney Barnato. The house was also the first in the city to have electricity.
Freedom Park is a monument erected as a symbol of SA’s democratic status.
The multi-million rand park opened its doors in 2007 and spans over 52 hectares on Salvokop in the south of Pretoria. The park details the history of precolonial, colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid times.
A city of excellence
Boasting beautiful and historic landscapes and some of the most a? uent businesses, Pretoria is a city unlike any other. Take a look at some of the city’s best achievements.
CITY OF THE FUTURE
The metro has the most certified green buildings in South Africa. The newly-built Tshwane municipality headquarters, Tshwane House, is a five-star graded green building. Our other green buildings include the Department of Environmental Affairs headquarters, the new StatsSA in Salvokop and Lakeside Office Park in Centurion.
A CAPITAL CITY
Named after Voortrekker leader AWJ Pretorius, Pretoria was founded on the bank of the Apies River in 1855. It was chosen for its central location, as the founding fathers of the South African Republic (ZAR) considered the other established towns of Lydenburg and Potchefstroom too far north or west. Today, its older rivals are still provincial towns, while Pretoria is one of the country’s capital cities and a seat of the executive branch of government.
AT THE HUB OF HISTORY
Pretoria has been at the centre of the country’s historical events.On 3 August 1881, the Pretoria Convention which ended the first Boer War was signed here. The Second Boer War also ended in Pretoria with the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902. In 1910, with the formation of the Union of South Africa, Pretoria became the administrative capital.
CHURCH SQUARE IN PARTICULAR
is not only in the centre of the city, but at the centre of history. In 1902, the British forces held a victory parade there. But 59 years later South Africa was again an independent Republic, and on 31 May 1961 the first president of the Republic advocate CR Swart was sworn in here. The statue of Paul Kruger has stood firm there since 1954.
WORLD CENTRE FOR DIPLOMATIC CORPS
Today Pretoria is a major diplomatic hub connected to the major power centres of the world. As mayor Solly Msimanga likes to point out, Pretoria – with over 130 embassies or high commissions - hosts the second-most diplomatic missions in the world (after Washington DC).
ALL-ROUND CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
In only 162 years, Pretoria has become an academic, research and cultural centre of excellence. Its 18 museums attest to its fascinating cultural and historical influences. These include the Mapungubwe Museum, the Pretoria Art Museum which boosts a vast collection of SA art, the SA Air Force Museum, the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, and Smuts House.
The city is the home to two military bases (Swartkop and Waterkloof), three universities and around 50 secondary schools (including six for foreign learners).
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) established by an act of parliament in 1945, is the largest research and development organisation in Africa.
Pretoria is also home to several military facilities of the SA National Defence Force.
In our first century, an estimated 50 000 jacaranda trees took root here (some estimate the number at up to 70 000). The first two, imported from Argentina, were planted in 1888, at a private home in Celliers Street, which is today part of Sunnyside Primary School. Municipal engineer Walton Jameson suggested in 1911 that 60km of Pretoria streets should be decorated with jacarandas. The purple canopy over the city in October and November has given Pretoria an iconic identity.
MUNICIPAL POWER HOUSE
The big leap in local government came in 2000 when several local municipalities, including Centurion and Soshanguve, were amalgamated. This made the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality the largest municipality in South Africa, by land mass.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
After local elections in August 2016, the city entered the brave new world of post-ANC politics, when the victorious DA – in a working agreement with a few smaller parties such as the EFF and the African Christian Democratic Party – took control of the metro.
An abundance of A-listers
Apart from being a world-class city, the capital city has much to offer. As one of the fastest growing cities, Pretoria boasts some of the hottest eateries, entertainment hubs, famous historical landmarks and world famous celebs to boot.
Yes, we know, the phrase “world-class city” usually refers to Johannesburg, but we just can’t help ourselves. Pretoria is one of the best cities to live in - and we want to shout that from the rooftops!
Don’t believe us? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
WORLD CLASS FOOD
When it comes to food, Pretorians are in a class of their own. Think traditional and gourmet delights all rolled up in a sensory explosion. Pure decadence. Local restaurants have it all - everything from gourmet burgers, delectable Chinese takeaways, traditional “pap and vleis” to fi ve-star meals in fl ashy rooftop eateries. Some of our favourite local restaurants include Forti Grill and Bar at Time Square Casino, Buff elsfontein Beesboerdery in Menlo Park, Chocolat et Café in Hazelwood, La Madeleine in Lynnwood Ridge and Kream in Brooklyn.
NEXT LEVEL ENTERTAINMENT
Entertainment is very big in the capital and we have loads to choose from. The city is fi lled with art galleries and venues like the Atterbury Theatre, Die Blou Hond, the State Theatre and Centurion Theatre, which have us all spoiled for entertainment choice. Some of the hottest national and international artists love spending time in the Jacaranda city. Now thanks to the new arena at Time Square, Pretorians can also enjoy world class entertainment without even leaving our borders.
Karlien van Jaarsveld, AB de Villiers, Nadia Beukes and Bok van Blerk all hail from Pretoria. And of course, we couldn’t be more proud. Apart from musicians and actors we even have a few world renowned artists to claim as our own. Does the name Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef sound familiar? Yes, the famous painter. He lived in Pretoria from the age of 18 and quickly became friends with fellow artists of his time such as Anton van Wouw (sculptor). Some of Van Wouw’s most famous work include the Voortrekker woman and children statute at the Voortrekker Monument.
Boasting some of the most prominent landmarks in the country, one of the most famous must be the Pretoria national botanical gardens. Established in 1946, the gardens are home to more than half of the tree species indigenous to South Africa. If you’ve never been to the Kruger house, it is also a must see. Built in 1883, the former house of President Paul Kruger is a firm favourite among visitors to the capital, especially after being restored to its former glory. It was declared a national landmark in 1936.
Fascinating facts about the capital city and its history
In 2004, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe bought a controlling share in the club and later took total control of the club by buying the remaining shares. Since the establishment of the current Premier Soccer League, the club won a record seven titles. They also won three National Soccer League titles, four Nedbank Cup titles, three Telkom Knockout League titles and three MTN 8 titles. Mamelodi Sundowns can also claim that they are currently the best football club in Africa. The club won the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League in 2016 and the CAF Super League earlier this year.