Pretoria, a Town full of History!
Hmmmmm, there are so many things that I can tell you about I barely know where to begin. Pretoria has so many historic buildings to see and such a rich culture that the list of things to see and do in and around of Pretoria is nearly endless. But I think I am going to diversify a little bit and tell you about my 3 favourite sites and destinations nearby where I live. Are you guys ready for the trip? Ok, here we go. Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times to prevent injury.
The Voortrekker Monument
The majestic Voortrekker Monument is on the same grounds as fort Schanskop in a nature reserve. It is a unique Monument which commemorates the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner and is situated in a beautiful setting.
The Monument was inaugurated in 1949 and was designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk. The Monument was designed with the 16 December in mind. Every year on 16 December at noon the sun shines directly on the Cenotaph. This is to commemorate the vow the Voortrekkers made to God on 16 December to observe this day as holy as thanks for the Lord saving them at the battle of Blood River.
In the Hall of Heroes is the world’s longest historical marble frieze. A tapestry with more than three million stitches is housed in the Cenotaph Hall.
Today it is the most visited heritage site of its kind in Gauteng and one of the top ten cultural historical visitor attractions in the country. It is also the only Grade 1 national Heritage Site in Pretoria. The Monument also manages the Blood River Heritage Site.
Rietvlei Nature Reserve
The Rietvlei dam was built during the great depression (from about 1929 to early 1930’s) and was completed in 1934. Manual labourers were paid 4 shilling a month and soil was carted away by mule carts. Feeding the dam is the Sesmyl (Six Mile) Spruit, five fountains (one is located on an adjacent property) and five boreholes. Upstream from Rietvlei dam is the Marais Dam which acts as a sludge dam for Rietvlei Dam. Starting in 1988 a two-year project raised the dam and made other improvements
Originally the dam was not open to the public but the city council of Pretoria did plan the reserve ecologically and introduced a number of game species to the reserve. The Nature Reserve was proclaimed in 1948. Rietvlei dam provides Pretoria with 15% of its water. The reserve covers an area of 3800 hectares and can support up to 2000 head of game species that includes waterbuck, buffalo and even a cheetah with her grown-up cubs. The area is also well known to bird watchers and is home to a large variety of bird species. There are several bird hides built inside the reserve where bird spotters can enjoy the surroundings and if lucky spot some new bird species that they have not seen before. Also available is a lion tour that takes you on a game drive.
Fishing is allowed on the northern and western shores and a yacht clubhouse was built on the north-western shore. Motorboats are not allowed on the dam.
The roads in the reserve are well maintained and serve the public for game viewing and the reserve staff as maintenance roads and fire breaks. Roads divide the reserve into 31 blocks. Rotation grazing practices on the reserve by routinely burning blocks and using lick as supplementary feeding.
The old farmhouse was restored and turned into a coffee shop in the reserve and the old barn is being utilised as a function venue for weddings, etc.
The group Friends of Rievlei are working tirelessly to ensure that the reserve is clean and the roads are in a good condition. They are dependent on donations and membership fees to make all the difference they can for visitors to enjoy the reserve.
Now for the best and most interesting part
other ghost stories? Well, what if I told you some of these stories are true? Die Pretoria Spookbus Toer (The Pretoria Ghostbus Tour) is just that but they take it a step further. A BIG step further.
Not only do they tell you the ghost stories of like the man with the wooden leg walking up and down on the wooden floors of a building in Pretorius street, they actually take you there at night and then explain the whole history of the story behind the haunting to you. It could, for instance, be that in 1942 the old man who lived there with his wooden leg past away in that house and since then his wife moved to a new address and now he is walking the halls up and down looking for his wife never to find her again.
Hehe, I even have a ghost story of my own. My husband’s grandmother passed away in her house in Pretoria West. Since then new people have moved in discovered the beautiful hardwood floors that the old houses in that area had and decided to tear out all the carpets. They told us that on that same night that they pulled out the carpets, his grandmother came and visited them to see what they were doing to her house. And her husband passed away in another house. The one morning he just got up out of bed and went to sit in one of the chairs in the front entrance, and then passed away there. Still, till today, some people say they can see him sitting in his chair. So, beware, they are always around and watching us!
This is to name just a few of the places to visit and things to do. I can write a book on all the activities and places to see in and around Pretoria, also known as the Jacaranda City.