Today we’re covering the city I live in, Pretoria. The city is the administrative capital of South Africa. Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa (for those of you who did not know). I’ve lived here since 1996 and this is definately one of my favorite cities in the country. The panoramic view from the Union Buildings is one of the most stunning sights in South Africa in my opinion. Pretoria has been selected as one of the host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup (which kicks off on the 11th of June at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg). Loftus Versfeld stadium will be the venue for games played in the tournament.
Here are 10 facts about Pretoria:
- Pretoria’s main street, Church Street, is the longest urban street in South Africa and one of the longest straight streets in the world.
- Many of Pretoria’s streets are lined with Jacaranda trees that blossom mauve (purplish blue) in spring (3 weeks in October) giving rise to the city’s nickname “Jacaranda City”.
- The Cullinan Diamond (the largest gem diamond ever found) was discovered near the city at the Premier Mine on January 26, 1905.
- Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the world (44 last time I checked) after Washington, D.C. in the United States.
- Pretoria has a population of +/- 2.3 million.
- Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was imprisoned at the Staats Model School in Pretoria during the Anglo Boer War period (1899-1902) but escaped from captivity and fled to Mozambique.
- The only rock music radio station in South Africa, Tuks FM, is based in Pretoria.
- The University of Pretoria (Tuks) is the largest residential university in South Africa and provides education for almost 40,000 students.
- Pretoria is the home of world’s largest soccer ball, although it’s not one that one can kick around. The 50 ton ball sculpture has been built around the top of the Lukasrand Telkom tower in Pretoria in anticipation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The ball is 24 meters across and 8 storeys high.
- Mrs Ples, the nickname for what is considered one of the oldest intact skulls of a distant ancestor of humankind dating back over 2-million-years ago is housed at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria. The skull was discovered at the Cradle of Humankind (a world heritage site) near Johannesburg.
Watch this space for more 10 Facts updates. Some more interesting topics will be making their appearance regularly.