Spot wildlife in nature reserves, follow the history of Dutch settlers and learn about the political developments that shaped the post-apartheid South Africa of today.
Pretoria is a city of nature, history and political importance. It's the administrative capital on the northeast plains of South and is known as the “Jacaranda City” for it’s many jacaranda trees.
Pretoria is a symbol for the great strides made by South Africa during the 20th century. International icon Nelson Mandela was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Only 30 years before, he had been sentenced to life in prison at Pretoria’s Palace of Justice on Church Square. For a broader history of South Africa, wander through Freedom Park south of the Pretoria city center, which has war memorials and a museum dedicated to the country’s past.
The city was founded in 1855 as the capital of the Transvaal Republic, a Dutch settlement declared independent of the British colony centered in Cape Town. Tour the Melrose Museum to see the house occupied by the British when they invaded Pretoria to gain control of the Dutch state. Paul Kruger, the fiery president of the Transvaal Republic at the time, unsuccessfully defended the city. Learn about the life of this folk hero at the Kruger Museum.
Enjoy the biodiversity of Pretoria’s natural landscape. See a 1,000-year-old fig tree on the Wonderboom Nature Reserve. Lions, tigers and cheetahs are on display at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, which is considered one of the world’s best zoos. Within Pretoria's city center you can find a variety of pleasant parks. Picnic in Burgers Park, the oldest park in Pretoria.
Reach Pretoria via the O.R. Tambo International Airport, a half-hour drive south in Johannesburg. The city is also accessible by train. Get around Pretoria’s compact city center on foot or by bus. Rent a car to venture further out.
Pretoria has long, humid summers from November through February. Visit around October to see the city dotted with purple when its 50,000 jacaranda trees are in bloom.