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Located about 50km north of Johannesburg and surrounded by the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains, the city of Pretoria is South Africa’s administrative capital and home to government departments, ministries, foreign embassies and diplomatic missions.
Buildings in Pretoria feature a marked colonial influence, along with touches of art deco and South African-style architecture. City landmarks worth visiting include the Union Buildings (South Africa's seat of government), the Voortrekker Monument (a granite edifice commemorating the Voortrekkers’ journey from the Cape to the hinterland and which is a National Heritage Site), Mahlamba Ndlopfu (the President's house in Pretoria), the South African Reserve Bank, Loftus Versfeld sports stadium and the South African State Theatre.
Pretoria is also home to the National Zoological Gardens and the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, along with nature reserves such Groenkloof, Rietvlei, Moreleta Spruit, Faerie Glen, Wonderboom Nature Reserve and the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary,
Pretoria is also proud of its educational institutions: the University of South Africa (the largest distance learning university in Africa), the Tshwane University of Technology, University of Pretoria (Tukkies) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Those with an interest in history should stop off at Freedom Park on Salvokop – a monument to democracy – and Kruger House, the historical residence of former President of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger.
The Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History provides fascinating insight into Stone Age and Iron Age artefacts, while the Mapungubwe Museum showcases excavated gold ornaments, ivory, ceramics, clay figurines, beads, iron and copper from a 13th century Iron Age settlement in Limpopo.
South Africa's national sport is rugby football, and Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld is home to the Blue Bulls rugby team, one of the country’s top sides. If there’s a match on, don’t miss it.
Pretoria and its suburbs are not short of shopping destinations, with malls such as Atterbury, Brooklyn, Centurion, Hatfield, Kolonnade, Menlyn Park, Sammy Marks, Sunny Park, Woodlands, Wonderboom Junction and Wonderpark offering shoppers a host of choices. Most of the larger shopping malls feature cinema and restaurant complexes.
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South African urban architectural design tours introduce visitors to the eclectic array of styles and influences behind the country’s most iconic buildings.
South Africa’s national botanical gardens are managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The most famous is the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. More local botanical gardens, also very beautiful, can be found in various cities throughout the country.
There are many well-known historic and contemporary art works on display in art museums and galleries in each of South Africa's 9 provinces, with many important permanent art collections centred in the country's major cities.
In Pretoria (sometimes referred to as Tshwane) there are plenty of day spas, health hydros and wellness retreats within the city itself and in easy driving distance to restore your energy.
South African dance has its own unique vitality and energy and includes traditional and cultural dance, gumboot and protest dance as well as contemporary dance and ballet, all performed in art houses and theatres across the country.
Freedom Park in Pretoria (in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality) is the brainchild of former president Thabo Mbeki; a monument to all South Africans who died in the struggle for human rights.
Pretoria/Tshwane, South Africa’s executive capital, is naturally a diplomatic hub – and therefore home to excellent fine-dining restaurants and a range of international cuisines.