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History

Besides Potchefstroom's claim to being the oldest town in the North West, few other towns are symbolical of South Africa's constitutional, cultural and religious development.

The town was established in 1838 by a group of Voortrekkers led by Andries Hendrik Potgieter. The name was derived from POT (gieter), the Voortrekker leader, CHEF (the leader, referring to Potgieter), and STROOM (the Mooi River).

Until 1960 it was the capital of the old South African Republic of which the first president, Marthinus Wessel Pretorious, was sworn in at Potchefstroom.

Potchefstroom is furthermore a historical town as it was the first town north of the Vaal River. The town was originally built on the position of the present "Oude Dorp". After the flood in 1840, it was decided that Potchefstroom would be developed one hour horse-ride south from "Oude Dorp" next to the Mooiriver.

The first Government Gazette was printed and published in Potchefstroom. The Dutch Reformed Church in the Transvaal (at that time) was founded in Potchefstroom in 1842 and since 1905 the town has been the theological seminary of the Gereformeerde Kerk.

People like Totius also worked here and made their irreplaceable contribution to the Afrikaans language and culture.

This city on the banks of the Mooiriver, with its 24 declared national monuments, has a rich history. A noteworthy fact is that the first shots of the First War of Independence were fired in Potchefstroom in 1880 and that the town also played a prominent role during the guerilla phase of the Anglo Boer War (1899 -1902).

Potchefstroom boasts many "firsts". It includes the following:
The "Vierkleur" was designed and hoisted here for the first time;
The first constitution of the "South African Republic" was drafted here;
The first coat of arms of the Republic was designed here;
The first church building in Transvaal was erected here;
Potchefstroom was the first town in the Transvaal to obtain municipal management;
The first "Staats Courant" (Government Gazette) was printed here and the first public press in Transvaal was established here.

The main museum and three house museums afford visitors a glimpse into the fascinating past of the city and its people. Tourists may acquaint themselves with the city by relaxing at the Lakeside Pleasure Resort with all its watersports facilities and excellent accommodation, strolling along six short trails in the city and visiting the OPM Prozesky Bird Sanctuary. The numerous other attractions and recreational facilities available in the immediate vicinity include Boskop Dam, the Vaal River and the Rooihaas Hiking Trail situated in the Vredefort Dome. This trail incorporates Krugerskraal, the erstwhile farmhouse of Totius. The botanical garden and Science Centre of the Potchefstroom University for CHE, as well as and the wide variety of sports facilities present the visitor with further opportunities for relaxation.

Today Potchefstroom is known as the City of Expertise and is home to; inter alia, four tertiary institutions and 30 schools, as well as numerous research bureaus and training centers. This enables Potchefstroom to step into the new millennium with confidence.

 


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