See "Polokwane" for updated town name info.
"A bustling urban development situated in a sea of grasslands interrupted by rounded granite kopjes" - this is how a travel writer summed up the city of Pietersburg.
Pietersburg, capital of the Northern Province, is the largest metropolitan complex in the north and a major economic centre. Its proximity to the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mocambique and Swaziland, as well as its convenient distance from the Kruger National Park and Magoebaskloof, makes it a perfect gateway and good destination in itself.
The town was established in 1886 after the Voortrekkers had to seek a healthier and safer area south of the Soutpansberg Mountains and Piet Joubert found the highland plateau above the town of Potgietersrus ideal. It soon became an important staging point for destinations to the north. When gold was discovered at Eersteling in 1871, the economy of the town grew and flourished.
In earlier times the open grasslands and hills of the central region were inhabited by nomadic tribes. The Zulu general Mzilikazi who fled from the Zulu king Shaka, will have travelled through the area on his way north to establish a kingdom in Bulawayo.
Although it is about 120 years old, Pietersburg (named after the well-known Boer general Piet Joubert) is a fast-growing and modern city, given its proximity to Gauteng and the rich agricultural district surrounding it. It is a lively city with a good infrastructure and amenities. It offers many different attractions with a number of museums and historical sites presenting the history and cultural heritage of the northern territory.
It is also a city of art and culture. Apart from its extensive art collection, the city has more public sculptures per capita in its parks than anywhere else in South Africa. At the Bakone Malapa Open-Air museum the traditional ways of the Bakone come to life. Museums, a bird sanctuary, game reserve, hiking trails and outdoor recreation areas, complete the picture.
The Pietersburg Game Reserve conserves one of the last remaining, undisturbed examples of a very localised vegetation type known as the Pietersburg Plateau false grassland. Within this vegetation type there are several interesting plant communities ranging from Acacia thickets to open red grass plains. It is around these open grasslands that one finds a very localised bird species known as the short-clawed lark. Another interesting feature is the mountain aloe forest on the northern slope of a low ridge.
Specialized excursions such as industrial tours (visiting dairy processing, an arts and craft factory and cool-drink manufacturers), cultural village and township tours, art weekends, adventure, golfing and 4x4 trails, and many more are organised from the Pietersburg Marketing Company.
Some of the most significant landmarks in the area are the impressive University of the North and the Zion City at Moria. This is the seat of the Zion Christian Church, an entirely black denomination with the largest following in South Africa. During Easter Weekend each year, millions of followers congregate here.
Despite its position on the tropic of Capricorn, the climate is superb because the city is on a plateau thirteen hundred metres above sea level. Average temperatures reaching a high of 27°C in summer and 20°C in winter permit outdoor living all year round.
Pietersburg, today encompassing the vibrant community of Seshego, boasts excellent accommodation, an airport with international status, including immigration and customs facilities, and a busy, friendly population.
Activities and Attractions:
Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Open-air Museum
This museum, 9 km from the town on the Chuniespoort Road, features a traditional and modern-day Northern Sotho village environment, preserving the architectural and cultural styles of these fascinating people. Experience the traditional ways of life and watch demonstrations of handcrafts.
Curios and handmade goods made by local craftspeople can be purchased at this trading store.
Chuene Crocodile Farm
Situated 34 km from town on the Chuniespoort Road. Crocodile feeds and informative talks.
Concentration Camp Cemetery
An idyllic cemetery housing the graves of the victims of a nearby Anglo Boer War concentration camp, where at one point almost 4 000 people were held.
Eersteling Monuments The site of the country's first gold crushing site and its first gold power plant are marked by the monuments which can be seen 18 km from the town on the N1 to Potgietersrus.
English Fort of Marabastad
Site where the Boers forced the siege of 140 soldiers for 104 days in 1880.
A wide selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, confectionary and other delights. Tea garden with fresh home-baked products.
Gemco Arts, Crafts and Curios Centre Situated 1 km from the city on the N1 south - a brilliant collection of semi-precious stones, ivory and other jewellery. The fascinating manufacturing stages of semi-precious beads such as tiger-eye can be seen. Have a cool-drink at the shady lapa.
Used during the days of horse-drawn carriages and postal riders on horseback, these rails are still to be seen near the Post Office in Landdros Mare Street.
Hugh Exton Photographic Museum Over 23 000 glass negatives offer a window on the first 50 years of Pietersburg's history. The collection can be viewed in the first Dutch Reformed Church built in Pietersburg in 1890.
All guns confiscated at the end of the Makgoba War in 1893 were melted into a mass of metal. Upon the building of a golf course in 1975, this was discovered and is now considered a gun memorial.
Moletzie Bird Sanctuary
A sanctuary housing many bird species and highly acclaimed for its excellent work in the protection of the rare Cape Vulture.
Pietersburg Art Museum
This growing collection of 800 pieces is one of the most extensive in South Africa, with a special emphasis on the artists of the Northern Province. Housed in the Danie Hough Cultural Centre.
Pietersburg Bird and Reptile Park
The largest pet shop in the Northern Province, with aquariums, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, birds, waterfowls, farmyard animals, monkeys, pony rides, and many more. Snake demonstrations are a popular feature of this attractive park.
Pietersburg Bird Sanctuary
One of the largest municipal reserves in the country, where a wonderful array of birds (over 280 species) can be seen. Well-developed hides and picnic spots available.
Pietersburg Game Reserve
More than 21 game species, from small buck to rhino can be seen in this 3200-ha scenic reserve, one of the largest municipal owned game reserves in South Africa, adjacent to the city. Many walks on offer, including a one-day hiking trail over 20 km with overnight accommodation.
Housed in the famous, historical "Irish House", the museum portrays much of the past history of the region.
Roman Catholic Church
This grandiose structure, dating back to 1934, is considered one of the province's finest pieces of architecture.
This remote corner of South Africa is an area of great scenic beauty where the traditional African customs are still practised in the mountain strongholds of the Drakensberg escarpment. The area offers superb 4x4 routes through unusual and dramatic mountain country.
Pietersburg is unique in the number of sculptures displayed within the civic square. The sculpture featuring a family group of giraffe has become an icon of the city.
Commemorates the explorations of the region of this famous Voortrekker leader. Located 6 km north of the city on the Ni.
Voortrekker Memorial and Wagon Tracks
Commemorates the Great Trek of 1838.
The combination of Zebediela and Letaba, the two largest citrus estates in the world. About 60 km from town.
For more information contact: Limpopo Tourism.