Quick Facts: Pretoria
- Pretoria is fondly known as the Jacaranda City after the trees that line its streets
- Jacaranda trees explode into magnificent purple blossoms during October making for a beautiful picture
- Pretoria is the capital of South Africa
- Pretoria falls under the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Council including Centurion, Hammanskraal and Crocodile River
- Tshwane, which is the new name given to Pretoria, is a vital player in the rapid economic and financial growth of the province of Gauteng
- The city serves as the administrative capital of South Africa and most governmental activity occurs within the impressive Union Buildings in the suburb of Arcadia
- Tshwane is also an academic hothouse with four universities and a spread of excellent schools serving a population of around two million people
- Hatfield Marke: arts and crafts
- Duncan Yard
- Coin World
- Irene Market
- Sunnypark Shopping Centre
- Pretoria Boeremark
- Wonderboom Nature Reserve
- Pretoria National Botanical Gardens
- Sammy Marks Museum
- Magnolia Dell Park
- Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
- Brooklyn Theatre
- Voortrekker Monument
- Pioneer Open Air Museum
- San rock art in the National Museum of Cultural History
- Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum
- Rietvlei Nature Reserve
- Roodeplaat Dam
- National Zoological Gardens
- Faerie Glen Nature Reserve
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Pretoria is fondly known as the Jacaranda City, after the 50,000 or so trees that line its streets, and explode into magnificent purple blossoms during October. The capital of South Africa, Pretoria falls under the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Council, along with other towns and townships like Centurion, Hammanskraal and Crocodile River. Together with Johannesburg, Tshwane is a vital player in the rapid economic and financial growth of the province of Gauteng – reputedly the fastest on the African continent.
The city serves as the administrative capital of South Africa and most governmental activity occurs within the impressive Union Buildings in the suburb of Arcadia. Tshwane is also an academic hothouse with four universities and a spread of excellent schools serving a population of around two million people.
Compared to its particularly energetic neighbour, Johannesburg, Pretoria is somewhat lacking in edginess and vibrancy. Despite this – and residents would say because of this – Pretoria has a subtle charm and an enchanting beauty. Nature reserves and parks abound in the city and it is home to some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in the country. The cultural and historical attractions provide visitors with a spread of stories about Pretoria's origins.
Until the arrival of the first Voortrekkers, the Tshwane area was occupied by the Ndebele people. Pretoria was officially founded in 1855 by Voortrekker leader Marthinus Pretorius, who named the city after his father, who had led his people to victory at the Battle of Blood River. Since 1860, Pretoria has enjoyed the status of serving as its country's capital, from the Independent Republic of the Transvaal to the republic of South Africa in 1961.
In the intervening years, the city has seen its share of troubled times. During the three year Anglo-Boer War, the city surrendered to the British. Thousands of women and children perished in British-run concentration camps just south of the city centre in Irene. It was only in 1902 with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging, that peace returned to this picturesque city.
Visit Hatfield Market for arts and crafts; unearth an object d'arte at Duncan Yard; get rich at Coin World; buy handmade gifts at Irene Market; be a mall rat at Sunnypark Shopping Centre; fill your basket farm style at Pretoria Boeremark.
Hug an ancient fig tree at Wonderboom Nature Reserve; share a picnic at the National Botanical Gardens; play croquet on the lawns of Sammy Marks Museum; visit Magnolia Dell Park in full bloom; hide away with bird book and binoculars at Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.
Chew the cud at The Barn on Irene Dairy Farm; get educated at Prue Leith's Restaurant; feast like a boer at Boer'geoisie; savour a meal street-style at Li-bel Bistro; taste designer food and art at +27 Design Café.
Catch a small show at Brooklyn Theatre; and a big show at the South African State Theatre; listen to live jazz at Huckleberry's; make it a late night at Rhapsody's; celebrate with Blue Bull fans at Loftus Versveld.
Discover the meaning of Freedom Park; journey with the pioneers at Voortrekker Monument; bake bread at the Pioneer Open Air Museum; explore San rock art in the National Museum of Cultural History; harness horse power at Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum.
Explore a historic mining village in Cullinan; visit "Mrs Ples" at the National Museum of Natural History; circle the square at Church Square; take a moment's silence at Irene Concentration Camp Cemetery; spot the president at the Union Buildings.
Do a game drive at Rietvlei Nature Reserve; make a splash at Roodeplaat Dam; discover your inner animal at the National Zoological Gardens; fly away with the birds (and faeries) at Faerie Glen Nature Reserve; switch to off-road mode at Groenkloof Nature reserve.
Pretoria is serviced mainly by O.R. Tambo International Airport, which lies about an hour's drive south of the city along the Albertina Sisulu Highway. Several airport shuttles are available to transport travellers to and from the airport. Domestic and charter flights can be caught from both Lanseria International Airport (about 50km south of Pretoria) and Wonderboom National Airport to the north. http://www.lanseria.co.za; http://www.wonderboomairport.co.za.
Construction of a rapid rail link - Gautrain - between Johannesburg and Pretoria is well on its way. Currently, however, the Gautrain only connects O.R. Tambo International Airport with Sandton central business district. www.gautrain.co.za.
A limited but easy to use bus service runs from Church Square in Pretoria Central. Timetables can be obtained from the central terminal or downloaded at http://www.tshwane.gov.za/busbooklet.cfm. A hop-on hop-off tourist bus is also available. Passengers embark at Church Square (south-eastern corner). Phone 012-358-1430.
Car rental companies abound at both O.R. Tambo International Airport and in Tshwane. Car hire is recommended for reaching outlying districts such as the Dinokeng area.
A number of metered taxi services are available to visitors, but these must be called for in advance rather than hailed in the street. Ask at your hotel for recommended service providers.
Pretoria has a temperate climate that is slightly warmer than Johannesburg. Sunshine is enjoyed year round, although summer rainfall does occur between the months of November and February. These brief thunderstorms are often accompanied by lightning and hail. Winter days are mild and dry with significantly cooler nights. The month of October is when the Jacaranda trees bloom, painting the city in fragrant purple.
English is spoken throughout Pretoria, but the most widespread language spoken here is Pedi, followed by Afrikaans, Tswana, Tsonga and Zulu.
Important Telephone numbers
- Dialling Code: 012
- Flying Squad: 10111
- Ambulance: 10177
- Emergency Medical Response: 082-911
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50 Hz. Round three-pin plugs are standard.