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Gauteng Accommodation

Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. It was formed from part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africa's first all-race elections on 27 April 1994. It was initially named Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (or PWV) and was renamed 'Gauteng' in December 1994. Situated in the heart of the Highveld, Gauteng is the smallest province in South Africa, with only 1.4% of the land area, but it is highly urbanised, containing the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The name Gauteng is derived from the Sotho word meaning “Place of Gold”, an apt title as much of the wealth of the province has arisen from this precious metal. The discovery of gold in 1886 on the Witwatersrand led to the development of one of the largest mining and industrial centers in the world. The principal cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria make Gauteng the commercial and industrial heart of South Africa. Satellite towns and cities surrounding Johannesburg have evolved in their own right, and close to Johannesburg, Soweto is home to several million people.

Johannesburg was originally a mining camp, literally in the middle of nowhere. Today, it is a major modern metropolis, and the commercial center of South Africa's economy. The museums in the center of town provide a valuable heritage of the history of the nation. The contrast between the wealthy northern suburbs and Soweto is an insight into the legacy of apartheid. The Public Library, Market Street, founded in 1889, houses the Michaelis collection of books on architecture and fine arts. The Transnet Heritage Library, old Johannesburg Railway Station, displays the development of transport in South Africa since 1860. The Johannesburg Art Gallery, Joubert Park, has a fine collection of art works by many international and local artists including the Pim collection of prints bequeathed to the gallery in 1934, etchings, engravings and woodcuts dating from the 15th century. The gallery includes sculpture gardens where works by Maillol and others are displayed. The Market Theatre Complex, Bree Street, comprises three theatres established in the old market. The theatres were opened in 1976 and an old market atmosphere has been maintained. The complex also contains photo galleries.

Museum Africa, Bree Street, has a selection of South African indigenous paintings and a fine collection of African musical instruments. The physical geology display has a collection of gold specimens. There are also displays of the history of Johannesburg, including original paintings and prints by early South African artists. The Planetarium in Yale Road, Braamfontein, offers hour-long lectures where the stars are projected onto a 22m dome. Pioneer Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, on the shores of Wemmerpan, contains many interesting attractions. The James Hall Transport Museum depicts the history of transport in South Africa.

Sandton City is one of the largest shopping centers in South Africa, with over 250 stores stocking everything from curios to confectionery, fashion to fine art. The Zoological Garden in Hermann Eckstein Park, Jan Smuts Avenue contains a large variety of animals, birds, reptiles and farm animals. There are pony rides for children. The South African National Museum of Military History is situated on the eastern boundary of the zoo.

Emmarentia Dam is a popular spot for picnics and windsurfing. The Botanic Gardens nearby have a magnificent Renaissance style rose garden with 12 000 rose trees. The Lion Park, Krugersdorp, Pretoria Road, has lion and a variety of other animals. There is also a pets' corner, swimming pool, playground,
restaurant and curio shop. In Kyalami, performances are given by the graceful Lipizzaner Stallions – the only ones outside the Vienna School. Gold Reef City, situated 6km from the center of Johannesburg, depicts the city circa 1890. It covers 11½ acres and includes the former Gold Mine Museum. Certain working gold mines are open for visitors.

Established in 1981, Bill Harrop's "Original" Balloon Safaris operates from a riverside country base, bordering Gauteng and North-West Province. Guests can savour coffee as dawn breaks over the balloon field and the Magaliesberg Mountains. The flight lasts for about one hour and includes a champagne breakfast after landing.

Pretoria is a city of tree-lined avenues, fascinating architecture and many historic monuments. The general lifestyle is part historic and conservative and part young and creative. Pretoria is regarded as the original home of the Afrikaans community, especially those who opposed British rule. The Union Buildings, in Church Street, are situated in beautiful gardens. They were designed by Sir Herbert Baker and built to house the Government Ministerial Offices. Voortrekker Monument comprises huge figures of the Great Trek leaders on the four corners of this granite monument, designed by Gerard Moerdyk. A laager of life-size ox-wagons surrounds the Monument. There is also a Voortrekker museum and a restaurant. The National Zoological Gardens in Boom Street has a wide variety of animals in open-air enclosures. Open pens allow lion and tiger to be observed in their natural surroundings. There is an over-head cableway, refreshment kiosks and picnic spots. The Aquarium has fresh and seawater tanks and the Reptile Park has a collection of snakes and other reptiles. President Kruger House, in Church Street, is a National Monument, and has been completely restored. The house now contains many personal possessions of Paul Kruger, who lived here until 1900. The President's state and private railway coaches are also on display. The National Cultural History and Open Air Museum, in Boom Street, has replicas of General Hertzog's study and General Smuts's bedroom and an interesting ethnological section.

The Pretoria Art Museum, in Schoeman Street, Arcadia, houses a valuable collection of South African art including works by Van Wouw, Oerder and Pierneef. The Society of Friends of the Pretoria Art Museum holds regular lectures and film shows. Visitors are welcome. The Klapperkop Fort and Military Museum, in Johan Rissik Drive, was built in 1898 by the old “Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek'”, whose military history is depicted in the Military Museum alongside the fort. Armaments and military vehicles used in various wars are on display in the grounds. General Smuts's House, in Doornkloof, Irene, was the home of the former Prime Minister. This wood and corrugated iron house is now a museum containing many of the family's personal belongings. The Premier Diamond Mine, situated 40km east of Pretoria, was where the famous “Cullinan” diamond weighing 3 106 carats was found in 1905. The mine now produces mainly industrial diamonds. The Pioneer Open-Air Museum, situated in Silverton, on the eastern bank of the Moreleta Spruit, consists of a restored house and farmyard of the pioneer period.

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