Situated about 50 kilometres north of Johannesburg is the sprawling city of Pretoria or to give it it’s correct name Tshwane. The city is also known as Jacaranda City and if you were to visit in November you would understand why. The majority of streets in Pretoria are lined with Jacaranda trees and when looking down from a high point you see only purple interspersed and some green, it really is a wonderful vista.
Pretoria is the administrative seat of government but Parliament sits in Cape Town and to confuse matters Bloemfontein is the Judicial Capital. Sounds confusing, well it is but it dates back to the foundation of the Union in 1910 when no-one could agree on a capital so a compromise was reached and while a number of attempts have been made to centralise Government over the years all of these have failed.
The city of Pretoria sits in a valley and is surrounded by hills so there are many places you can visit to get a panoramic view and we decided on the Union Building. This impressive building housing the President’s Office and the administration government, dominates the northern side of Pretoria and the views below are grand. An extremely large statue of Nelson Mandela now takes centre stage in the front of the buildings and there are always tourists lining up for a photo opportunity. From our viewpoint we were able to look over to our next stop, the Monument which also dominates the skyline of Pretoria.
The Voortrekker Monument was built to commemorate the great trek by the Voortrekkers out of the Cape Colony between 1835 to 1854. while it is a building that symbolises apartheid for the majority of South Africans it cannot be denied as an important part of the history of modern South Africa. The arduous journey from the Cape to the far north of South Africa and into Mozanbique in wagons pulled by bullocks was an extraordinary feat and it opened up South Africa for generations to come.
Pretoria is full of history and one day was not enough but there will be a next time when visits to the jail where Winston Churchill escaped from in 1899 will be on the agenda.