Villieria, Pretoria

The northern Pretoria suburb of Villeria, neighbour to Rietfontein, Rietondale, Moregloed and Waverley, lies just north east of the city centre, this side of the Magaliesberg mountain range. It is an older suburb, with generous sized properties and lovely gardens, but devoid of the more modern, double-storey homes that tend to grace the more easterly suburbs of Pretoria.

That said, the advantage to a stay in Villeria is without doubt its central location. The city centre with its myriad museums and State Theatre is but five kilometres from here, as are the Union Buildings and Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium, whilst three popular shopping centres - Jacaranda, Waverley Plaza and Gezina City - are all with easy reach of the suburb. A lot of visitors are attracted to Villeria because of its access to the Pretoria Academic hospital, the Eugene Marais hospital, and Moot General Hospital.

The National Botanical Gardens, on the other side of the N1 from Villeria, is a popular haunt for visitors to Pretoria after green spaces. It is far more than a park, although most people come here to enjoy the shade trees under which they picnic. But there is also a showcase of indigenous and exotic trees and plants, including a succulent collection from Madagascar.

Wonderboom Nature Reserve, named after the wild fig, is just on the other side of Rietfontein, in the heart of the Magalies Mountain range. This 200 hectare reserve has as its heart a thousand year-old wild fig tree, originally so big it was reputed to provide shade for a thousand people at a time. Whilst only a shadow of the original specimen remains, it is still worth seeing. Its branches, which grew heavier and longer over time, rooted themselves and produced daughter trees that now surround the ancient wild fig.

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