Pretoria is a sunny, warm, spacious city, notable for its beautiful gardens, flowering trees (especially jacarandas), its concentration of government and provincial offices, and various official organisations with their armies of civil servants.
The world’s largest diamond - all 3106 carats of it – was found in Pretoria. Called the Cullinan, it was presented to King Edward VII and fragmented into the Star of Africa and set into the sceptre of the Crown Jewels.
A monumental faith
The Voortrekker Monument south of Pretoria was built to commemorate the determination of the Afrikaners to survive and overcome the difficulties that they encountered while searching for the Promised Land. It’s a powerful symbol of Afrikaner nationalism and of their belief that God gave them this land for their own use. Murals in the interior of the building depict the story of the Great Trek and of the Battle of Blood River where about 500 Boers defeated an army of thousands of Zulus. At the foot of the monument there is a small museum which reconstructs the lifestyle of the settlers and shows the routes they followed.
What's in a name?
The Voortrekkers named their capital Pretoria after Andries Pretorius, a hero of the battle of Blood River.
The National Botanical Gardens cover 77 hectares and are planted with indigenous plants. 20 000 species are grouped according to their region of origin, so if you’d like a sneak preview before you travel around the country, this is a good place to start. If you’re here on a weekend there are sometimes markets or open-air concerts in the gardens.