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