Town History

In 1855, Pretoria was founded by Marthinus Pretorius, a Voortrekker leader. His intention was to name it after his father, Andries, who was instrumental in the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus in the monumental Battle of Blood River.

It took some time to settle on a name for the new town though, options like “Pretoriusdorp”, “Pretorium”, “Pretoriusstad” and “Pretoria-Philadelphia” were all considered, but Marthinus finally settled on Pretoria.

Today the area has been renamed the City of Tshwane, but the CBD still keeps the name of Pretoria. Pretoria continues as the administrative capital of South Africa.


The Union Buildings are central to South African history now represent the change South Africa endured. Despite it mainly being a governmentally significant city, it is also alive with culture, housing many museums, monuments and theatres.

The area was originally occupied by Ndebele in the early 1600s, but it wasn’t until 1840, when the first Afrikaans settlers arrived, that the area was established as a permanent settlement.

Pretoria has been recognised as an important place since early in its history. In 1860, a mere 5 years after its founding, it became the capital of the Independent Republic of the Transvaal. When South Africa became a Union in 1910, Pretoria was again named as the capital. On 14 October 1931, Pretoria gained status as a city and in 1961 was named as the capital of the Republic of South Africa, the title it still enjoys.

Pretoria is also known as the “Jacaranda City” because of the over 50 000 Jacaranda trees that lines her streets and carpet the city in purple in October. The first Jacaranda trees were imported from Rio de Janeiro in 1888 by a Pretoria resident.

Pretoria has had a more tumulteous history too. During the Boer War of 1899 to 1902, the city was surrendered to the British, despite being surrounded by four forts to defend the city, including Fort Wonderboom. This war, however, was ended by the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging which took place on 31 May 1902 in Melrose House, Pretoria.

Within the heart of the city stands Church Square, initially called Market Square. It was home to the first church built in Pretoria, which burnt down in 1882. The square marks what used to be the centre of Pretoria and is now home to many historically significant buildings, like the Ou Raadsaal (council chamber) and the Palace of Justice. The square is perhaps most famous for the large bronze statue of Paul Kruger, former State President, which stands in its centre.

Throughout the city, many great works of architecture show a variety of influences. Examples include the Union Buildings, the Voortrekker Monument, The City Hall , the Ou Raadsaal, and UNISA.

The Pretoria area is also home to many nature reserves, parks and gardens, including the National Zoological Gardens, the National Botanical Gardens and many small parks scattered across the city.

The rich history of the area is also captured within the many museums within Pretoria, such as the Transvaal Museum, National Cultural History Museum and many old buildings that have been preserved as gems of the past.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Vermont, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


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