02 October 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds and Andrea Weiss

Powerful Pretoria

South Africa’s executive capital has a rich history, fantastic monuments, beautiful views and interesting festivals. It’s also a city with many government offices, diplomatic missions and civil servants, making it the place in South Africa to network.

The Union Buildings in Pretoria. Photo courtesy of Michael Jansen, aka brainstorm1984

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 images from this group to share on our blog. This week we are celebrating South Africa's executive capital, the historic city of Pretoria, also known as the City of Tshwane.

The majestic sandstone Union Buildings, pictured in the feature image, are worth a visit. Here you can stroll through the gardens and browse for crafts along Government Avenue, the street between the buildings and the gardens. 

The Union Buildings were designed by Sir Herbert Baker and once synonymous with apartheid South Africa. Now they have come to represent the new democracy, as former president Nelson Mandela made his inauguration speech here after the first democratic elections in 1994. 

Pretoria is also known as the 'Jacaranda City'. In summer, the pavements are carpeted with purple jacaranda flowers, and the story goes that students know it's time to study for their final exams when the trees start to drop their flowers.

Photo courtesy of Falke =/\= Photo courtesy of Falke =/\=

The city is named after Voortrekker leader Marthinus Pretorius, but the municipality gets its name from the Ndebele leader, Chief Tshwane, whose people settled here from the 1600s onwards. There is an ongoing dispute over a potential name change for the city to reflect a break with its apartheid past. You can see this statue of Chief Tshwane outside the city hall.

Photo courtesy of Basil, aka bilwnder Photo courtesy of Basil, aka bilwnder

This Zambian woman was photographed tending her spinach plants in the Pretoria township of Mamelodi. There are many fellow Africans living in South Africa, and the reasons for this influx are varied. Some come to South Africa looking for better job opportunities, others seeking asylum. Many create businesses that flourish and help strengthen an exchange of culture, language and knowledge. 

Photo courtesy of pamela ross Photo courtesy of pamela ross

The massive campus of the University of South Africa (Unisa), South Africa's largest university and the largest distance education institution in the world, is the first building you will notice when you enter Pretoria from the south if you're travelling by road from Johannesburg.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Gill Photo courtesy of Jonathan Gill

The Pretoria National Botanical Garden is where you'll find these buildings, decorated in the distinctive, colourful style of the Ndebele people, as well a garden laid out with medicinal plants used by traditional healers.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Gill Photo courtesy of Jonathan Gill

On a lighter note, South Africans are known for enjoying a good beer, and the Capital Craft Beer Festival showcases some of South Africa's finest craft beers, which are fast taking off in the country. Visitors to the festival can enjoy live entertainment, good food and, of course, beer.

Photo courtesy of Danie Steyn Photo courtesy of Danie Steyn

This festival takes place at the Voortrekker Monument, which remains a landmark on the outskirts of the city.

Photo courtesy of Danie Steyn Photo courtesy of Danie Steyn

Pretoria is also home to the Blue Bulls, one of South Africa's leading and most popular provincial rugby teams. The Loftus Versveld stadium is their home ground. This picture was taken during a match between the Bulls and Australia's New South Wales Waratahs in April 2013.

Photo courtesy of Vark1 Photo courtesy of Vark1

Much of South Africa's history is bound up with the history of Pretoria. Pay this interesting city a visit, learn more, take photos and share your pictures with our Love South Africa group.

Photo courtesy of Siyabonga Mahlangu Photo courtesy of Siyabonga Mahlangu
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