History and culture in Pretoria
Did you know?
One of Pretoria's most attractive examples of an historical building is Melrose House at 275 Jacob Maré Street. Once the home of a wealthy businessman, it dates back to the 1880s.
History and culture in Pretoria/Tshwane reveals a lot about the character of this city. Once the capital of the old independent Transvaal Boere Republic, the new democratic Pretoria lies in Gauteng province, as part of the Tshwane municipality, and is the administrative and diplomatic hub of the country.
In Pretoria, history and culture is part of everyday life and landmarks of the past are everywhere. A pleasant stroll around Church Square in the heart of town takes visitors past the parliament buildings (or 'Die Raadsaal') of the former Boer Republic. Visitors will also see the Palace of Justice, used as a military hospital until 1902 by the British, when the hostilities of the Anglo-Boer War ceased.
The imposing Union Buildings, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, are a top attraction when visiting Pretoria. The crescent-shaped complex was built in 1910 to house the administrative offices of the Union of South Africa.
Art lovers who appreciate African and Southern African art should visit the Pretoria Art Museum in Arcadia. Set in beautiful grounds, it is often the chosen venue for launches and exhibitions celebrating ethnic diversity. The University of Pretoria houses a distinguished collection of artworks. The National Cultural History Museum is rich in expressions of rock art, Ndebele murals and various historic gold and silver artefacts.
The Freedom Park is a whole new way of ‘seeing' South African history. Intended to embody the nation's historical consciousness, the hill-top complex in Salvokop memorialises the struggle and the liberation heroes who have shaped the modern South African nation. Here you'll find a memorial list of all those killed in both World War I and II, the Boer Wars and those who lost their lives during the turbulent times of apartheid, and stands as a monument to democracy. No trip to Pretoria or Tshwane is complete without a visit to Freedom Park.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Pretoria/Tshwane Tourism Information Centre
Old Nederlandsche Bank Building, Church Square, Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0) 12 358 1430
Fax: +27 (0) 12 358 1485
How to get here
You can reach Pretoria by car or bus along the N1, N4 or N14 national highways. Alternatively, it is less than an hour’s drive from the OR Tambo International airport.
Having your own car is useful, or take an organised tour.
Length of stay
Depending on your itinerary, spend anything from two nights to a week in Pretoria
Where to stay
There are a number of city hotels that are worth considering including the popular Sheraton hotel and a range of small boutique hotels. There are also numerous guest houses.
What to eat
Pretoria is known for its cuisine and a wide variety of restaurants serving cultural fare from all over the world.