Pietermaritzburg, Natal Midlands
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Set in the heart of the Natal Midlands in KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg is a city of charm and dignity, at its loveliest in spring when masses of azaleas burst into bloom.
When the first Voortrekkers arrived in 1837, they found a tranquil countryside graced by forests, hills and valleys. They settled on a fertile tract of land beside the Umsindusi River and named it after two of their leaders, Gerrit Maritz and Piet Retief. Six years later, the British upgraded the village to a military garrison town. Today, numerous Victorian and Edwardian buildings, quaint pedestrian lanes and other landmarks reflect the substantial British contribution to the development of the town.
And in shady, tree-lined suburbs, spacious red brick bungalows and upper-crust boarding schools reinforce the colonial ambiance of "The Last Outpost of the British Empire" as Maritzburg is affectionately known. The city has a wide range of shops, hotels and restaurants, providing the ideal gateway to the exceptional country inns, recreational resorts and game reserves of the Midlands and the Drakensberg.
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"We come to Pietermaritzburg often as we have family here, and we just love our time in this town. We always make a point of trying to visit at least some of ..." - Nicola van Reenen, Stellenbosch
Visitorials: We Love South Africa
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We’ve asked those in the know to share their favourites things about Pietermaritzburg. Find out where locals go for the best cup of coffee, lunch suggestions and much more. We’re letting you in on all of their secrets ... I Love Pietermaritzburg because ...
Featured Attractions in (or near) Pietermaritzburg
The source of the uMngeni River lies in the uMngeni Vlei area, an ancient wetland bounded by hills. From here it meanders eastward through undulating pastoral countryside until just before Midmar Dam, where it is joined by the Lions River. Below Midmar Dam the river plunges some 111 metres down ... more information
Alexandra Park is one of the green belts which contributes to Pietermaritzburg’s reputation as “The Garden City”. The park was established in 1863 and named after Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII. The 85 hectare park is bounded by the Msunduzi River, along which the famous canoe marathon runs. The Park is ... more information
Adjacent to the Royal Show grounds in Pietermaritzburg lies Basani Arts and Crafts Centre in Hyslop Road. The centre, which has recently been completely renovated, boasts a gallery, a ceramics room and craft room containing a selection of Zulu crafts. Magwaza clay pots are on offer in the ... more information
The Burger Street Jail was closed in 1989 and sections of the jail are open today for tours. The building is now run by Project Gateway, a Christian self-help project, and features a craft shop and coffee shop. The original jail was built in 1862, replacing the Voortrekker jail on market square in Pietermaritzburg. It is one of the ... more information
Church Street in Pietermaritzburg has been converted into an attractive pedestrian shopping mall. The African Arts and Craft Centre in Fraser Lane specialises in traditional and contemporary work, including sculpture, hand-woven rugs and tapestries, batiks, jewellery and collectors’ pieces.
For those that love South African nature and the outdoors, the Doreen Clark Nature Reserve offers all of this and more. Situated just outside Pietermaritzburg, this nature reserve spans seven hectares and boasts a magnificent forest that is bordered by pristine grassland ... more information
Garden of Remembrance
The Garden of Remembrance commemorates the servicemen who lost their lives in the two world wars. Sap oozes from the famous Weeping Cross of Delville Wood on the anniversary of the battle in which many South African soldiers died. The Garden of Remembrance is situated across from City Hall.
Scottsville is now home, not only to its well known race course, but to the largest horse statue in the world - a 14 metre Pegasus. The Pegasus proudly greets visitors to the Golden Horse casino, which is a four-star luxury hotel in Pietermaritzburg. The Pegasus was known as the horse god in Greek mythology and was sired by ... more information
Only a short distance away from central Pietermaritzburg and seconds from the highway, Hayfields Mall is a popular shopping centre with locals. Anchor shops include Pick ‘n Pay, Clicks and the major banks all have a presence here. Photoworld and Postnet make it especially convenient for locals.
The Maritzburg Golf Club in Pietermaritzburg is one of the oldest golf clubs in South Africa, dating back to 1886. It has lush, smooth cynodon greens; pine trees line many of the fairways and water hazards feature on seven holes; numerous bunkers; very hilly course with beautiful scenery; excellent test of golf ... more information
The enchantment of the Midlands has long inspired many a visitor and resident to creativity and as a result, local artists, potters and weavers combined to create an arts and crafts route in 1985, which was to become the highly successful and popular Midlands Meander. The route stretches ... more information
Situated just south of Pietermaritzburg’s City Hall in Jabu Ndlovu Street, the Natal Museum is one of South Africa’s five national museums, set in a particularly pretty building that dates back to 1905. The name, Natal Museum, which is in the process of changing in an attempt to reposition itself as it has shifted with the changes ... more information
The Natal Zoological Gardens are a collection of both local and unusual animals - 44 different animal species to be precise. Aside from the fossas, there are leopards, various primates, a series of birds that include the black swan, crowned crane, peacock and blue crane, lemurs, parrots, kookaburras ... more information
Part of Pietermaritzburg’s colonial history lies in the proud Old Colonial Building, which has stood on Church Street since 1899. The colonnaded front facade was completed in 1901 and was home to various government offices over the years. The design of the building is attributed to William Henry Powell, who won ... more information
One of eight national botanical gardens, Pietermaritzburg's Botanical Gardens occupy an ancient floodplain and hillside on the edge of a mist belt that creates an atmosphere, on days when the mists roll in, something like that of a Dickens novel. The city is not known as the City of Flowers for nothing, and private ... more information
Pietermaritzburg's City Hall, which claims to be the largest brick building in the southern hemisphere, lies in the middle of the Pietermaritzburg city centre. The building is a national monument and is a beautiful piece of Victorian architecture, with its 47m high bell tower. Constructed in 1893, the building was ravaged by fire in 1895, with ... more information
Pietermaritzburg Railway Station
The attractive red brick Railway Station building in Railway Street in Pietermaritzburg dates from the Victorian era, and is notable for its contrasting stone facings and cast-iron lace work. Mahatma Ghandi was evicted from a train here in 1893, a famous incident which launched him on his political career.
The Queen Elizabeth Nature Reserve serves as the headquarters of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, KwaZulu-Natal’s nature conservation service. Situated in Hilton, the nature reserve is home to many beautiful species, including impala, blesbok, zebra, bushbuck, dassies, grey and blue ... more information
Less than five minutes from the CBD of Pietermaritzburg, the Victoria Country Club is superbly located in the scenic parklands adjoining the Queen Elizabeth Nature Reserve, and above all, boasts one of South Africa’s most picturesque golfing venues. The course meanders attractively through rolling ... more information
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