I Love My City

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.

Colour Run

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.

Having a braai

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.

Street of purple Jacaranda's

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.

Union Building
Union Building
Telkom Lukas Rand Transmission Tower
Telkom Lukas Rand Transmission Tower

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).

South African Reserve Bank
South African Reserve Bank.

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.

Former president Paul Kruger’s house
Former president Paul Kruger’s house.

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.

South African Reserve Bank
Freedom Park

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.

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.

South African Reserve Bank
Smuts House

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.

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.

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).

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.

South African Reserve Bank
Paul Kruger Statue

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.

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.

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.

Pretoria City at night
Pretoria City at night

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!

Voortrekker woman and children by Anton Van Wouw
Voortrekker woman and children by Anton Van Wouw

Don’t believe us? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

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.

Nadia Beukes
Nadia BeukesPhoto: Hanri Human

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.

AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers

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

The first Jacaranda trees planted in Pretoria were ordered from a Cape Town gardener in 1888 and bought for £10. The fi rst two trees were planted at Celliers Street 144, the former home of Daniël Celliers. A bronze plate was erected in honour of the occasion and today can be seen on the grounds of the Sunnyside primary school.

Church Square has always been the hub of Pretoria, although it was initially called Market Square. This was where the first church, a mud-walled building, was built. It burnt down in 1882 and was replaced by a much grander structure. Open markets were regularly held in the square. Albert Broderick, an Englishman christened Albertus Broodryk by his Afrikaans friends and customers, established himself as a shopkeeper. He also ran the community’s first bar, the Hole-in-the-Wall.

Jacaranda trees
Jacaranda trees
The first-ever movie to be shot in South Africa was filmed right here in Pretoria when Edgar Hyman in 1898 filmed then President Paul Kruger as he climbed into his carriage.

After the city’s first Jacaranda trees were bought and planted in 1888, by 1955 over 448 kilometers of streets were adorned with the purple trees.

From its humble beginnings in the early 1960s as a club from Marabastad, Mamelodi Sundowns became one of the biggest and most successful soccer clubs in Africa. The club was first affiliated as a professional soccer club in 1973. After struggling for years in the 1980s, Angelo and Natasha Tsichlas bought the club and built it into one of the best in the country.

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.

Pretoria has five athletics stadiums with artificial surface tracks: the HM Pitje stadium in Mamelodi, Lucas Moripe stadium in Atteridgeville, ODi stadium in Mabopane, Pilditch stadium, (which is also the headquarters of Athletics Gauteng North) in Pretoria West and ABSA Tuks stadium at the Tuks Sports Campus.

Menlyn Park Shopping Centre
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre
Menlyn Park shopping centre in Pretoria is regarded as the largest shopping mall in Africa. After undergoing refurbishment of R2.5 billion, it now consists of over 500 stores and has approximately 8 250 parking bays.

The annual Tshwane Open golf tournament with a total of R16.5-million in prizes, counts among the three richest tournaments in South Africa. It forms part of the Sunshine Tour and is co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The Sunshine Tour represents the highest level of competition for male professional golfers in Southern Africa. The tournament provides players a chance to gain Sunshine Tour Order of Merit points, European Race to Dubai points and much sought-after world ranking points.

Pretoria’s main street, Stanza Bopape (previously known as Church Street), is considered to be the longest urban street in South Africa and one of the longest straight streets in the world. (It clocks in at 26km).

The capital produced two cruiserweight boxing world champions. Sebastiaan Rothmann became the first boxer from Pretoria to win a world title as a cruiserweight. He also won two world titles. He won his first title by beating Rob Norton from England in September 1999 for the World Boxing Union (WBU) title, which he then defended successfully six times. In October 2002 Rothmann knocked out Anthony Bigeni from New Zealand to become the cruiserweight champion of the International Boxing Organization (IBO). In 2013, Danie Venter from Pretoria became the World Boxing Federation (WBF) cruiserweight champion when he knocked out Shawn Cox from Barbados in the first round of their title fight in Pretoria.

On 10 October 2000, damage of R4,7 million was caused to 17 homes in Villieria when approximately 125kg of commercial explosives exploded in Derrick Barrett’s garage in 27th Avenue. Barrett’s wife, Louisa; his neighbour Hans Werner; and a gardener, George Makhubela died in the explosion, while his secretary, Marlene van Niekerk, lost her sight.

The inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa at the Union Buildings in 10 May 1994 heralds the beginning of a new era in South Africa’s history.

The University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre (HPC) was the first of its kind in South Africa and introduced South African sport to the modern era. It is a unique combination of world-class training facilities, medical services, accommodation, nutritional and scientific expertise, research and hospitality. In 2008, six years after its establishment, the HPC has produced its first Olympic medal winner when Khotso Mokoena won silver in the long jump in Beijing. In 2012, South Africa won six medals in London – three gold, two silver and one bronze. Half of the medals were won by athletes involved at the HPC. Last year in Rio, Team South Africa won 10 medals. Three medal winners in Rio were trained at the HPC.

Menlyn Park Shopping Centre
Gautrain on its way to Hatfield station
The Gautrain officially began operating with stations at Hatfield, Pretoria Central and Centurion on 2 August 2011.

When Mr. Sammy Marks, a well-known Jewish industrialist and close friend of former President Paul Kruger, was allowed to build the town’s first synagogue he expressed his pleasure by commissioning the sculptor Anton van Wouw to produce a statue of the president. A plinth was erected in Church Square to receive the bronze figure that had been cast in Rome. Unfortunately the Second Boer War broke out and the statue was held up in the then Lorenzo Marques. This resulted in the statue only being erected at its current location in 1956.

n the late 1920s, Duncan Street had four different names over its length. The then municipal council bought properties, straightened the street and named it after Patrick Duncan, South-Africa’s first SA- born governor-general. Thanks to several extensions, residents will know that today the street starts as Codonia Avenue, turns into Stean Avenue, then Gordon Avenue and leads into five other different streets at the Brooklyn circle.

View from the Union Build of the CBD
The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality was created on 5 December 2000. Thirteen former city and town councils were included in the structures of the new metro and the new council would in future be managed under an executive mayoral system.

The first South African to officially finish the 100m in under 10 seconds did so right here in Pretoria at the athletics track of the University of Pretoria. Simon Magakwe broke the South African 100m record in 2014. His time was 9.98 seconds.

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