Pretoria celebrates 166 years of existence

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The Voortrekker Monument celebrated a one-of-a-kind birthday on the rooftop of the edifice with purple cupcakes and a breathtaking view.

On Tuesday, the city turned 166 years old after being founded in 1855.

Professor Anton van Vollenhoven gave a brief talk about the prehistory and history of Pretoria on the rooftop.

“I am a born and bred Pretorian. So I have a huge love for this city or town. Pretoria has a way of feeling like a town,” he said.

Van Vollenhoven, who was a researcher and curator at several museums, is currently working as a heritage consultant and director of Archaetnos Archaeologists.

In December, Van Vollenhoven will launch his book, The History of Pretoria.

Van Vollenhoven said the mountain ranges in Pretoria were very important in its history because the mountains housed a wide variety of animal and plant life.

“One of the earliest residents of Pretoria described the Groenkloof area as a real lion’s den,” he said.

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Van Vollenhoven said cyclists were warned recently to be on the lookout for leopards in the Rietvleidam area. He said the first people in the area were the Sotho/Tswana in 1450 “From 1630 to 1670 the Transvaal Ndebele also moved to the area where they adopted some of the Sotho/Tswana customs,” he added.

Van Vollenhoven said by 1840 the voortrekkers moved into the region on the farms called Groenkloof and Elandspoort.

“In 1853, president Martinis Wessel Pretorius bought Daspoort and Elandspoort with the goal in mind to establish Pretoria,” he said.

Pretoria was officially founded on 16 November, 1855 and the following year the first church was built and inaugurated in 1857. Van Vollenhoven said the jacaranda trees also played a big role in the history of Pretoria.

“The first two jacaranda trees were planted in 1888 by JF Cilliers and by 1906 the tree was being planted as street trees resulting in 64km of Jacaranda trees by 1911.”

Van Vollenhoven added that the city got electricity in 1894.

“The forts build before the Anglo Boer War was considered at the time as one of the most modern structures in the world because it had water and electricity.”

Van Vollenhoven said Pretoria became the capital city of the country in 1910.

Voortrekker Monument managing director Dr Danie Langner thanked the public for their ongoing support at the monument.

Voortrekker Monument media liaison Gerhard Pretorius said the first time when he got up on the roof it was really special.

“It’s gripping having a whole view of Pretoria,” he said.

Source: citizen