Pretoria & Johannesburg
Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria is an attractive small city with a sunny temperate climate, leafy suburbs, numerous green open spaces, historical buildings, museums, galleries, theatres, entertainment venues, and the strikingly beautiful Union Buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker. From the forming of the Union of South Africa in 1910, through two World Wars, the birth of apartheid, the swearing in of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1995 until today, these buildings, well worth visiting, have been the seat of the country’s political power. High on a hilltop in a nature reserve overlooking the town in its bowl of hills is the huge Voortrekker Monument, a physical and cultural symbol of the Afrikaner nation, commemorating the early pioneers who in the 1880s trekked far into the interior of the country from the Cape to escape British rule. It’s one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions.
Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement. Commonly known as Jo’burg, this rapidly changing city is the vibrant heart of South Africa. After almost 20 years of decline and decay, Johannesburg is now looking optimistically towards the future. Its centre is smartening up and new loft apartments and office developments are being constructed at a rapid pace. The neighbourhood of Maboneng is considered one of the most successful urban-renewal projects in the world. However, the wealth divide remains stark, and crime and poverty haven’t been eliminated. Its sprawling Soweto township was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s former residence is now the Mandela House museum. Other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation include the sombre Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex.