Get to Know Pretoria
Pretoria is a city in the northern part of Gauteng province in South Africa. It straddles the Apies River and has spread eastwards into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the seat of the administrative branch of government while Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital. There have been proposals to change the name of Pretoria itself to Tshwane, and the proposed name change has caused some controversy.
Pretoria is named after the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, and within South Africa is popularly known as the "Jacaranda City" due to the approximately 50 000 Jacarandas that line its streets, parks and gardens. Being an invasive species, jacaranda trees are no longer allowed to be planted in Pretoria. The South Africa’s capital city is situated approximately 55 km (34 mi) north-northeast of Johannesburg in the northeast of South Africa, in a transitional belt between the plateau of the Highveld to the south and the lower-lying Bushveld to the north.
The Jacaranda City as Pretoria is known for all the purple blossom-bedecked trees, which line its thoroughfares, Pretoria is a lovely, quiet city. It has a long, involved and fascinating history. Here you will find significant old buildings and fascinating museums. The Transvaal Museum has natural history displays and is the home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humankind.
Pretoria has been left to shrug off its former association with the apartheid government in a relative state of slumber, lying as it does in a warm, sheltered valley surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg range that ensure that temperatures here are invariably a few degrees warmer than the neighbouring Johannesburg. Don’t let the sleepy nature of the pretty city lull you into a false perception. Pretoria has a beauty all of its own, and the slow pace of life is regarded as a bonus by its residents. Many Jo’burgers seek a quieter existence in Pretoria, prepared to commute daily rather live in the comparative rat race. Wall flower the city is not. When in full bloom in October, Pretoria literally comes alive with blossoms and leaves no one in doubt as to the origin of its nickname - Jacaranda city.
Practically mandatory when visiting the city are the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, the Zoo, the Union Buildings and various museums and galleries that include Melrose House, the Pioneer Museum, Sammy Marks museum, and the Voortrekker Monument. Outdoor activities include the Wonderboom and Groenkloof Nature Reserves, the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, and a steam train ride around Pretoria. Also, worth visiting are the Cultural History Museum and Smuts Museum in Irene, outside Pretoria.