26 September 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds and Andrea Weiss

Marvellous Maritzburg

The area known as the Midlands, with Maritzburg at its start, is famous for sites of historic interest, beautiful architecture and many outdoor sporting activities, among them the legendary Comrades Marathon.

The annual Golden Horse Sprint takes place each year at the Golden Horse Casino Hotel near Maritzburg. Photo courtesy of Pieter von Marion

The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?

Each week we choose photos from this group to showcase on our blog. This week we are celebrating Pietermaritzburg, also known as Maritzburg or uMgungundlovu, which is in the heart of the Midlands in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Pietermaritzburg City Hall, pictured below, was built in the late 1800s and destroyed by fire only a few short years after its construction. It was reconstructed in the early 1900s and still stands today. The City Hall was also the starting point in 1921 of the first-ever Comrades Marathon, a 90km ultra-marathon that takes place each year between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Photo courtesy of Robert Wallace, aka RobW_ Photo courtesy of Robert Wallace, aka RobW_

This statue to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Indian independence, can be seen in Church Street in the middle of Maritzburg. Gandhi arrived in British-controlled South Africa as a 23-year-old in 1893 and had his first brush with the racist policies of the time, when he was asked to leave the first-class compartment of a train. He refused and spent a freezing night at Pietermaritzburg's station, an event which sparked his philosophy of passive resistance. 

Photo courtesy of thomas, aka Blob79 Photo courtesy of thomas, aka Blob79

Within 20km of Maritzburg is the town of Howick, famous for its waterfall, which makes for a beautiful photograph, particularly when in flood.

Photo courtesy of <a href= Photo courtesy of Graham Hobbs

Close to Howick, visitors can enjoy a treetop canopy tour at Karkloof. This zip-lining activity is a wonderful outdoor experience for those who want to experience an indigenous African forest in a unique way.

Photo courtesy of <a href= Photo courtesy of flowcomm

Just 3km outside Howick is another site of major historical importance. The Mandela Capture Site is the newly opened monument to the place where former president Nelson Mandela was arrested when on the run from the apartheid government, marking the start of his 27-year incarceration in 1962.

Photo courtesy of <a href= Photo courtesy of Derek Smith, aka Mr Baggins

There are many sporting activities that happen in this part of the world, among them the Midlands Triathlon, the Midmar Mile, the Comrades Marathon, and the Dusi Canoe Marathon. Below, contestant Kate Roberts emerges from the water during the Midmar Dam leg of the BSG Energade Triathlon, one such sporting event.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hitchcock Photo courtesy of Chris Hitchcock

The 90km Comrades Marathon attracts contestants from around the world, along with people of all ages, and is known as the world's greatest ultra-marathon. It is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg each year, and the starting point alternates. If it's a Maritzburg year, then it's known as a down run as it drops down to the coast. 

Photo courtesy of Nirun Dowlath Shah, aka Nirun Dowlath Photo courtesy of Nirun Dowlath Shah, aka Nirun Dowlath

In 2014 the race starts in Durban. Even if you don't have the physical capacity for it, there's nothing stopping you from standing on the sidelines to cheer the runners on.

Photo courtesy of Chris Bloom Photo courtesy of Chris Bloom

The Dusi Canoe Marathon is also great test of endurance. This three-day race begins in Maritzburg in January and is approximately 120km long. It is run by the Natal Canoe Club, and entrants need to register with the club before they can register for the race.

Photo courtesy of Clive Reid, aka Kleinz1 Photo courtesy of Clive Reid, aka Kleinz1

Visit this area yourself and experience everything it has to offer, and then be sure to share your beautiful photographs with our Flickr group.

Category: Attractions

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