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Pretoria Travel Guide

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Pretoria © girolame

Pretoria is affectionately known as the Jacaranda City due to the profusion of Jacaranda trees, which colour the city a rich purple with their blossoms every spring. It is located 56 miles (90km) from Johannesburg, although this drive can take up to two hours in the infamous traffic between the two cities. Pretoria is South Africa's administrative capital and one of the country's more attractive cities; its relatively ordered and picturesque urban centre forms a stark contrast to its much more chaotic neighbour of Johannesburg.

Pretoria was founded in 1955 and named after Andries Pretorius, the boer leader at the Battle of Blood River where the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus under King Dingaan. But since 1994, the city is best known as the administrative capital of South Africa, and as home to the iconic Union Buildings where Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the country's first democratically elected president. Although Pretoria is, to the surprise of foreign visitors, the capital of South Africa, it is nowhere near as famous as Cape Town and Johannesburg and in reality several cities in the country essentially divide the various functions associated with a capital city.

Pretoria may not be one of South Africa's most popular tourist destinations, but it makes a fantastic base for a multitude of sightseeing opportunities. The city offers some unique attractions, such as the historic Voortrekker Monument, the South African National Zoological Gardens, a wonderful zoo, and the nearby town of Cullinan where the discovery of the world's largest diamond took place. If visitors run out of diversions in Pretoria the proximity of Johannesburg ensures that boredom is not an option. Pretoria offers visitors a unique glimpse into a city brimming with history and simultaneously embracing cultural change.

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