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PMB Places and Buildings
01 Dec 2009

Alexandra Park

An 85-hectare park on the banks of the Duzi River established in 1863. There are cycling, soccer, hockey and swimming facilities in the park as well as a Victorian pavilion built in 1898 overlooking the cricket pitch. This was used as a location in the film Zulu Dawn starring Burt Lancaster, Peter O'Toole, Simon Ward and Denholm Elliott.

Alexandra Park is also the venue for various outdoor events including the annual outdoor Art in the Park and the vintage car event Cars in the Park. Craft and flea markets are run on the last and first Sundays of every month.

Location: The park is bordered by Albert Luthuli Road and Alexandra Road

 

Old Parliament Buildings

The foundation stone of the legislative council building was laid on June 21, 1887 and the building completed on 25 April 1889. In 1893 when Natal achieved responsible government the new Constitution provided for a parliament of two houses - a legislative council and a legislative assembly. The foundation stone of the new legislative council building was laid in September 1899 and the building opened in 1903.

The statue of Queen Victoria in the grounds is a replica of the marble statue in Sydney, Australia, by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. It was unveiled on July 8, 1890.

Location: In Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street, close to the intersection with Albert Luthuli Road.

 

City Hall

Today's City Hall stands on the site of the original Raadsaal of the Trekker Republic of Natal which was built in 1842 and later functioned as a Supreme Court from 1846-1871. The first city hall built on the site was completed in 1893 but destroyed by fire in 1898. It was rebuilt in 1900. The main hall in the centre of the building houses contains one of the world's most impressive organs which was inaugurated in 1902 and has since been renovated.

The clock tower is 47 metres high and the clock, a Westminster 4/4 chime tower clock was manfuactred by Gillet and Johnston of Croydon, England.

 

Pietermaritzburg Prison

The Old Prison dates back to 1862 when the first cell-block was commissioned. Among its more notable prisoners were King Dinuzulu ka Cetshwayo, Langalibalele, Moses Mabhida, Kasturba Gandi, Harry Gwala and Peter Brown. The prison closed in 1989 and Project Gateway was later given the site for community development projects.

Location: 4 Burger Street
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8am to 6.30pm
Tel: 033 845 0400

 

Anglo-Zulu War Memorial

Erected in memory of imperial and colonial forces that died during the war of 1879. It was sculpted by Carlo Nicoli of Carrara, founder of the Nicoli Sculpture Studios - who also sculpted the statue of Theophilus Shepstone. Sculpted in Italy it shipped to Durban in 1885.

Location: Corner of Church and Albert Luthuli Rad, opposite the City Hall.

 

Comrades Marathon House

Headquarters of the Comrades marathon includes a museum devoted to the famous race.

Location: 18 Connaught Road, Scottsville.

 

Old Colonial Building, Church Street

Designed by William Henry Powell, an architect who had come to Natal to rebuild his reputation after being involved in a scandal in England. Powell won a competition for the design of the Colonial Building and was appointed architect in February 1895. Powell died before it was completed in 1900.

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi stands in front of the Colonial Building.

 

Pietermaritzburg Railway Station

Red-brick Victorian station that was the scene of a famous historical incident. In 1893 Mohandas Gandhi was travelling by train to Pretoria when a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage. Despite having a first-class ticket Gandhi was asked to move to the van compartment at the end of the train. He refused and was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg station. He spent the night in the waiting room and it is there he decided he would stay in South Africa to fight against racial discrimination. The next year he founded the Natal Indian Congress. Gandhi left South Africa for India in 1914. There is a statue of Gandhi in Church Street in front of the Colonial Building.

Location: At the top of Church Street

 

St Peter's Church

The original Anglican cathedral built in 1857 for the first bishop of Natal, John Colenso, who is buried before the altar. The current Cathedral of the Holy Nativity was built adjacent to St Peter's in 1978.

Location: Church Street

 

Italian Prisoner of War church

Visible as you drive into Pietermaritzburg on the left of the N3. Italian prisoners of war were housed in a camp situated near the Durban road in the upper end of Scottsville. They constructed the church which was consecrated in March 1944. For a period in 1942 German POWs were held in the camp while in transit to Canada.

Location: Epworth Road, Scottsville

 

National Botanical Gardens

The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden specialises in the conservation of plants from the eastern region of South Africa and of rare and endangered species from elsewhere. Established in 1874, there are also many specimens of plants and trees from the northern hemisphere plants including an avenue of London plane trees planted in 1908. The bell at the top of Plane Tree avenue is from the yacht Lady Enchantress that took Sir Winston Churchill to Norway at the end of World War Two.

Opening hours: 08:00-18:00 (October-April) and 08:00-17:30 (May-September).
Entrance fees are R12 for adults and R6 for scholars, students and senior citizens.
Botanical Society members have free entrance to the Garden.

Tel 033 344 3585
Fax 033 344 1284
e-mail:natal-nbg@sanbi.org
Location: Mayor's Walk

 

Arya Samaj Hall, Imbali

On March 25, 1961, in the Arya Samaj Hall adjacent to Zibukezulu Technical High School in Imbali, Edendale, Nelson Mandela made his last public speech before his arrest outside Howick the following year.

In 2008 a monument was unveiled in front of the hall to commemorate Mandela's landmark speech at the All-in-Africa conference. As the plaque on the memorial says "it was also to be his last (speech) as a free man for another 29 years. A bearded Mandela told the 1400 strong delegates, representing 145 social and political organizations, that 'one man, one vote is the key to the future'. He called for economic sanctions against the apartheid government and warned of mass action. It was at this conference that the liberation call, Amandla Ngawethu! (Power to the People) became popular."

In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom Mandela vividly recalled the event: "When I walked out on stage on Saturday evening ... in front of this loyal and enthusiastic audience, it had been nearly five years since I had been free to give a speech on a public platform. I was met with a joyous reaction. I had almost forgotten the intensity of the experience of addressing a crowd."

"In my speech I called for a national convention in which all South Africans, black and white, Indian and Coloured, would sit down in brotherhood and create a constitution that mirrored the aspirations of the country as a whole. I called for unity, and said we would be invincible if we spoke with one voice."

Mandela returned to the hall on 25 April 1997 when he was awarded the Freedom of Pietermaritzburg.

Location: F.J. Sithole Road, Imbali

 

Publicity House

Built in 1884 for the city's police and fire departments. Now houses the offices of Pietermaritzburg Tourism.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 8am to 5pm; Saturday 8am to 1pm
Location: Corner of Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Road and Langalibelele (Longmarket) Street

 

Fort Napier

Built to house British imperial troops. It was founded in 1843 and imperial troops occupied the fort until 1914. The wood-and-corrugated iron officer's mess was constructed in 1899 from a 'kit' sent from India during the Anglo-Boer War. During World War One the fort was used as an internment camp for German nationals. In the 1920s it became a psychiatric institution. Opposite the entrance to Fort Napier is St George's Garrison Church built in 1897-98 as a memorial to officers and men who died during the Transvaal War (1880-1881). There is a memorial window dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Frederick Roberts son of Field Marshall Lord Roberts killed at the battle of Colenso during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

Location: Devonshire Road

 

Government House

Originally the home of Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, Benjamin Pine who arrived in Natal in 1851. The buidling was completed in the late 1860s and the Natal government later bought it from Pine and established it as Government House. With the advent of the Union of South Africa in 1910 the need for Natal governors came to an end and the building stood empty until being taken over by the Natal Education Department in 1912 and turned into a teacher's training college is now the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of South Africa.

Location: Church Street

 

Habibiya Soofie Mosque

The Soofie Mosque was built in 1909 by the Sufi saint Soofie Saheb and its full name, Habibia Soofi Aastana, indicates it is the Pietermaritzburg home of the Chishti Habibi Sufi Order which traces its origins via a lineage of saints back to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

Though it has been added to substantially over the years the mosque was initially designed along Turkish lines as the influence of the Ottoman Empire was still strong at the time. An historic building it is recorded as number 92 among Pietermaritzburg's listed building. This is an especially fortuitous number because, according to the abjad numerical system in which numbers can be used to represent letters and words, 92 represents the name Muhammad.

Location: Masukwana (East) Street

 

Sri Soobramoniar and Marriamen Temple complex. Both temples were officially opened in 1925. The annual firewalking ceremony in honour of Draupadi, takes place here every Good Friday. The Sri Vishnu Temple is located opposite.

Location: Lower end of Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street towards Masukwana (East) Street

 

Natal Museum

The Natal Museum is a Natural and Cultural History Museum. Built in 1905 it houses collections of South African mammals, birds, amphibians, insects and molluscs. It also has an archaelogical section devoted to human habitation and history in southern Africa. The entomology collection is the largest collection of insects in the country. The museum also has one of the best mollusc collections in the world.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm; Saturday: 10am to 4pm; Sunday 11am to 3pm
Tel: 033 345 1404
Website: www.nmsa.org.za

Location: Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street.

 

Macrorie House Museum

The Macrorie House Museum was the residence of Bishop William Macrorie from 1869 to 1891. Originally built in 1852 for the timber merchant Edward Few this Victorian museum contains furniture and other items from the British settler period. It also contains Bishop Macrorie's miniature chapel.

Opening hours: Monday: 11am to 4pm; Tuesday to Friday: 9am to 1pm
Location: Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street

 

Tatham Art Gallery

The building that houses the gallery was built in 1864. It was initially used as a post office. From 1906 to 1983 it was the home of the Supreme Court. The Tatham Collection has had a number of homes and was previously housed in the city hall before moving to its present location in 1985. The Tatham Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of British and French artworks dating back to the 18th century while its South-African collection revolves around the art of KwaZulu-Natal. There is a gallery shop and a coffee shop: The Chef's Table.

Location: Albert Luthuli Road, opposite City Hall
Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm
Tel: 033 392 2801
Website: http://www.tatham.org.za

 

Msunduzi Voortrekker Museum complex including Church of the Vow

The main museum features the history of Pietermaritzburg as well as an exhibition devoted to the Prince Louis Napoleon who was killed during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

The Church of the Vow incorporated into the museum grounds was built to fulfill the vow of 1838 made by the Voortrekkers to build a church to the honour of God if they succeeded in defeating the Zulu army. Following their victory at the battle of Blood/Ncome River they began collecting funds to build a church. The church was inaugurated in 1841. Today it is a museum containing a collection of Trekker relics including a replica trek wagon. The modern church next door has statues of the trekkers Pieter Retief and Gerrit Maritz in the forecourt.

Location: Entrance on Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9am to 4pm; weekends 9am to 1pm.

 

THE FREEDOM ROUTE

The Freedom Route has been initiated by various KwaZulu-Natal tourism stakeholders to promote the freedom related struggles of especially the main freedom icons of this province such as Mahatma Gandhi, John Langalibalele Dube, Alan Paton, Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela and others. The freedom route sites around Pietermaritzburg include the Pietermaritzburg Train Station, The Old Prison, Edendale and Mbali routes, the Gandhi Statue, the Alan Paton Centre, Sobantu Township, Arya Samaj Hall and the Nelson Mandela Capture site near Howick. Check the website www.kzn.org.za/index.php?freedom

* Acknowledgments: Historic Pietermaritzburg by Steve Camp, published by Shuter and Shooter, 2001.





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