Tshwane/Pretoria

Pretoria Travel Blog

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Located in the north part of the country, Pretoria is the political and diplomatic hub of Gauteng province and is situated an hour's drive north of Johannesburg. Pretoria is a multicultural city, with a decidedly international flair. The city is home to embassies from the Americas, Europe and Asia and restaurants abound to suit every cosmopolitan taste. Pretoria is also a student town (Hatfield) and boasts a youthful exuberance. It's abuzz with music venues, hip coffee shops and cocktail bars. You can also find one of the largest shopping centers in Africa at the sprawling Menlyn shopping centre just a little east.

Pretoria was the capital of the old independent Transvaal Boere Republic (founded by Afrikaners of Dutch descent who wanted independence from Britain). After the South African War, the Transvaal became part of South Africa under British colonial rule. In the new South Africa, Pretoria lies in Gauteng province, and is home to a number of educational institutions such as universities, technical colleges and esteemed schools, as well as embassies and government bodies. One of the most attractive examples of a historical building is Melrose House at 275 Jacob Maré Street. It dates back to the 1880s and was the home of a wealthy businessman. Designed by British architect William Vale, it borrows from a mix of styles, echoing an English country house, an Indian pavilion and the local Cape Dutch architecture. The gardens are beautifully tended and much of the original furnishings remain. A pleasant stroll around Church Square in the heart of town takes visitors past the parliament buildings (or "die Raadsaal", as they were called in Afrikaans in 1890) of the former Boer Republic. Visitors will also see the Palace of Justice, which was used as a military hospital until 1902 by the British, when the hostilities ceased. Last but not least come the Union Buildings, designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The structure was built in 1910 to house the administrative offices of the Union of South Africa. It is not open to the public for security reasons, but merits a drive-by or an al fresco lunch (bring your own) on its lush lawns. Art lovers who appreciate African and Southern African art should visit the Pretoria Art Museum in Arcadia. Set in beautiful grounds, it is often the chosen venue for launches and exhibitions celebrating ethnic diversity. The National Cultural History Museum is rich in expressions of rock art, Ndebele murals and various historic gold and silver artifacts. Pretoria played its part in South Africa's freedom struggle and to honor those who supported the movement, the building of a park known as Freedom Park is underway and will be ready by 2010. Struggle tourism is an essential part of recognizing South Africa's history and Freedom Park will be a significant symbol of remembrance.

Loftus Versfeld Stadium

Loftus Versfeld in the heart of Tshwane/Pretoria, currently has a seating capacity of 45,000. Very little upgrade is needed for the stadium to be ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. It is also a venue for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The site on which Loftus Versfeld is located was first used for sport in 1903. It was named after Mr Robert Owen Loftus Versfeld, who is attributed with establishing organised sport in Pretoria. It has been used for numerous sports events including the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.

Often simply referred to as Loftus, it has served as a venue for many international matches. South Africa achieved their first victory over a European opposition at Loftus Versfeld, beating Sweden 1-0.

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Pretoria
photo by: eefab