Pretoria Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > South Africa > Pretoria > History

A relatively small city, Pretoria lies about 50km north of Johannesburg and is approximately three degrees warmer than its southern cousin. Although largely a government-based city, it is also a place of culture, with theatres, museums and monuments.

Greater Pretoria is a city of science and technology, knowledge and industry in the true sense of the word.

As the academic, scientific and technological capital of South Africa, the city has the most highly developed technology and research sector in Africa.

Four universities and a number of scientific institutes, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute, both internationally respected.

Jacarandas throw a blanket of mauve over this, slightly, more sedate city. Even so, Pretoria boasts superb shopping centres, museums, art galleries and restaurants.
There is also an abundance of open spaces ' Pretoria has more than 100 parks, including bird sanctuaries and nature reserves.

The Pretoria National Botanical Gardens offer more than 5,000 indigenous plant species. Not far from there the Fountains Valley Resort, just outside the city offers walks, trails and picnic areas.

City Centre

The centre of the city, rich in history and architectural gems, houses the African Window Museum and Church Square where you'll find the Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Paul Kruger statue, the Tudor Chambers the 'Ou Raadsaal' and the General Post Office, designed by John Cleland. Above the Church Square entrance is a clock surrounded by sculptor Anton van Wouw's. The city centre also offers the Museum Mall designed along the lines of the American Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

To the south of the city centre up Paul Kruger street ' about a 20 minute walk ' is the Station Building, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, who also has, to his credit, the Union Buildings.

Burgers Park

Close to that is the suburb of Burgers Park, including Melrose House, a fascinating museum which warrants a full mornings visit. Burgers Park has many villas built from the wealth acquired from the boom on the Witwatersrand gold field during the 1880s and 1890s.

Marabastad

A few blocks north of the city centre is Marabastad, where you'll experience the colours and hustle and bustel of Africa. There are fascinating shops like the 'muti' shops of the 'Sangomas' (traditional healers), cinemas and a mosque recalling the vibrant, cultural and religious life of Marabastad. Famous for its beauty and ingenuity in building construction, the Mariammen Temple stands witness to a once devoted Hindu community.

About five city blocks to the east of Marabastad are the National Zoological Gardens.

Sunnyside, Arcadia and Hatfield

Backtrack south to Church Street (the longest urban street in South Africa), then go east and on the left, are the Union Buildings with their beautiful gardens and sweeping lawns. The massive building, started in 1901 and completed in 1913, cost 1,180,000 pounds Stirling.

This is where you'll find the suburbs of Sunnyside, Arcadia and Hatfield ' the most popular areas for embassies, shopping centres, pretty lanes, beautiful old homes and the University of Pretoria. In fact, these are the most affluent and interesting suburbs of the city.

Hatfield boasts bars, cafes, boutiques, sidewalk coffee shops and restaurants from which you can soak up the South African sun and watch the passing parade of students, artists, street artists and sidewalk traders selling stuff from all over Africa.

About ten minutes from there, in the suburb of Arcadia, is the Pretoria Art Museum, the showplace for the finest South African (and often international) art.

Waterkloof

To the south, are the hilly, gracious and large suburbs of Waterkloof Ridge and Waterkloof Glen. Its here that the very wealthy reside, viewing Pretoria from their lofty homes.

Centurion

To the south of the city, and heading towards Johannesburg is Centurion, of note primarily for the Voortrekker Monument and its attractive parks.

Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 91° 89° 88° 83° 78° 73° 74° 80° 88° 90° 90° 90°
Avg. Low 57° 56° 53° 45° 38° 33° 33° 36° 42° 48° 51° 55°
Avg. Precip. 5.3 in 3.0 in 3.1 in 2.1 in 0.5 in 0.3 in 0.1 in 0.2 in 0.8 in 0.3 in 0.4 in 4.3 in

Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.