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- Established: 1838

Key statistics (2011)

Area: 659 square kilometres (254 sq mi) Population: 1,001,000: 1,665.44 inhabitants per square kilometre (4,313.5 /sq mi) Households: 170,354: 447.55 per square kilometre (1,159.1 /sq mi)

Motor vehicles are assembled in the city, and iron ore is mined nearby.

Pietermaritzburg is the seat of the University of Natal (1909), a technical college, the Natal Museum and the Tatham Art Gallery.

-Points of interest include the Church of the Vow (1839), built to commemorate the 1838 Boer victory over Zulu forces; Fort Napier, erected by the British in 1843; and the Provincial Council Buildings.

-Climate: Due to its geographical location, Pietermaritzburg has a wide range of climates but generally there are no extremes. The average temperature ranges from 23-30°C, although it may rise to 40°C in the summer months of February and March. 

Pietermaritzburg Botanical Gardens


With a proud past, the city of Pietermaritzburg is a thriving, modern capital that has carried its history fully into the present, yet still encompasses a picturesque country feel. It plays host to spectacular sports events, annual outdoor festival and an agricultural show without parallel on Africa's east coast. 

Over the past few years it has reclaimed its rightful position as the Capital City of KwaZulu-Natal and is currently undergoing a major overhaul in terms of its road system. The Bird Sanctuary area would be unrecognizable from when Brian's Circus used to camp there annually. The whole area has become the second CBD of Pietermaritzburg.


Pietermaritzburg is still basically divided into three areas namely Edendale, Northdale and Pietermaritzburg CBD with the surrounding suburbs, the forced group areas act of apartheid legacy is still apparent in these three areas with Edendale mainly made up of the black ethnic group, Pietermaritzburg suburbs with whites and Northdale, Woodlands, Raisethorpe, Eastwood, Mountainrise, Copesville being colored and Asian race groups. Although since 1994 the enforced residential areas assigned to the various race groups have fallen away most have stayed in their former areas.  





Basic Description:



It's a regional center for higher things: education, arts and government. Hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and bed and breakfast establishments cater for every tourist need.

It's a dynamic commercial, educational and industrial center, with companies that are relocating into its orbit, drawn by a quality of life not easily obtained in South Africa's larger cities.

Yet the country is never far away.

Timbered hills cradle the city and the Msunduzi River races through its center. Climb the old Voortrekker wagon road up to the plateau overlooking Pietermaritzburg from the northwest, and the lush panorama of the province stretches before you from World's View, while abundant parks and gardens keep the city permanently green.  

Pietermaritzburg is a city steeped in Historical heritage, with a high concentration of attractions linked to its various skeins of history than any other city in South Africa.

One of the best ways to bring local history alive is with one of the self-guided Town Trails. These are easy, comfortable walks through the city's historical centre - which includes 50 national monuments.

The city has gone to great lengths to maintain its red-brick charm and authenticity, and outstanding among the many Victorian and Edwardian buildings is the City Hall. Built in 1893, it was destroyed by fire in 1898, rebuilt, and reopened in 1901.

One of the largest all-brick buildings in the southern hemisphere, it stands on the site of the original Voortrekker Raadsaal, and was declared a national monument on 27 June 1996.

It houses what is to be reputed to be one of the largest organs in the southern hemisphere, and this magnificent instrument is still in demand for recitals and concert recordings. The 47 meter clock tower at the City Hall stands out as a world famous landmark from the center of the CBD.

The Pietermaritzburg City Hall

On the same square as the City Hall stands the Church of the Vow, built by the Voortrekkers in 1840 to commemorate their victory at Blood River in 1838.

The church is now part of a Voortrekker Museum, with a unique and varied collection of Voortrekker relics, that stands alongside the rebuilt house of Voortrekker hero Andries Pretorius. Mohandas Gandhi is woven into the fabric of Pietermaritzburg history.

A striking statue in the Church Street Mall depicts him forever striding forward in commemoration of the incident in 1893 when he was evicted from a first class railway carriage at Pietermaritzburg railway station. The Parliament Buildings in Longmarket Street are deeply rooted in history.

The foundation stone was laid on 21 June 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. Its soaring columns and copper domes reflect the grandeur of the colonial past. The central city shopping area, intersected by a network of character lanes, is a pedestrian treat. Dating back to 1838, it was surveyed by Piet Greyling and is reminiscent of Victorian London. Specialist shops - Africana collectors are frequent visitors - and cafes invite browsing. Look out for the old-fashioned hitching rails outside the Imperial Hotel as well as the handsome style of the Standard Bank building  

The above images are of the Boer War remembrance statues opposite the city hall, many of the soldiers killed on both sides were boys and men from as young as 19 years.


Annual sporting events, festivals and outdoor shows draw some 300 000 people each year to Pietermaritzburg, and there's something different and exciting each month.

Perhaps the best known is the Comrades Marathon, which is run each year in June. The Duzi Canoe Marathon, the oldest paddle race in Africa, splashes into action in the waters of Camps Drift in central Pietermaritzburg.

Three days of paddling and portaging later, and entrants pull into Durban's Blue Lagoon, having tackled one of the toughest of river races.

Another aquatic event that brings top athletes to Pietermaritzburg is the Midmar Mile. It's held in February and, with some 10 000 swimmers setting out from the shores of Midmar dam, is the world's largest inland ultra-swim . 

Alexandra Park is the venue for two great crowd-pleasers: Art in the Park, the country's largest outdoor art exhibition, and Cars in the Park, which is the most popular gathering of vintage cars and their enthusiasts in South Africa. 

Also held in the park is the Oval Craft Market which is one of South Africa's oldest established markets (held on the first Sunday of every month) as well as the Alex Upmarket (held on the first Sunday of every month).


The main attraction every May is the annual Royal Show, an agricultural and community jamboree for the whole family. The program is varied, with everything from home industries' produce and champion livestock to show jumping and pop concerts.

Attended by some 200 000 people in the space of a few days, its the largest event of its kind on the eastern seaboard of Africa.  

Famous People from Pietermaritzburg

Kork Ballington, World 250cc and 350cc Motorcycle Champion

Melissa Carlton, Paralympic swimmer who represented Australia

Amod Cassimjee, One of the earliest known Indian settlers who arrived in South Africa as a businessman rather than as part of the slave trade. (b. 1871)

Brendon Dedekind, swimmer (b. 14 February 1976)

Jon Ekerold, World 350cc Motorcycle Champion

Brett Evans, (b. 8 March 1982) South African Football (soccer) player attended Merchiston Preparatory School and Maritzburg College and played for Maritzburg City as an amateur

Adrian Furnham (b. 1953), British-based organisational and applied psychologist and academic

Jonathan Handley, singer-songwriter (b. 5 June 1954), originally from Springs, founder of The Radio Rats who in 1979 had a hit single "ZX Dan" on Radio 5 (now 5FM).

Bessie Head, writer, was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1937.

Butch James, Springbok and Natal Sharks rugby player attended Maritzburg College from 1994 to 2000. He played for Colleges' 3rd team and was the starting flyhalf for the Springboks.

Stratford Johns, (b. 22 September 1925 – d. 29 January 2002) popular British stage, film and television actor. Left for Britain in 1948.

Charlie Llewellyn, cricketer (b. 29 September 1876), first non-White Test cricketer for South Africa.

Clinton Marius, writer, performer (b. 20 August 1966)

Cuan McCarthy, fast-bowling Springbok cricketer 1929–2000

Phyllis McCarthy, noted authority and breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Cathcart William Methven (1849–1925), painter, engineer and architect

Greg Minnaar, three time Downhill World Cup champion (2001, 2005, 2008). He was also crowned Downhill World Champion in 2003. He attended Carter High School.

Bryce Moon, (b. 6 April 1986) South African Football (soccer) player was born in Pietermaritzburg and played for Pirates (PMB) in his youth

Shaun Morgan, lead singer of Seether, is a former resident of Pietermaritzburg and attended both Merchiston Preparatory School and Maritzburg College while he lived there.

Alan Paton, author of Cry the Beloved Country, was born in Pietermaritzburg.

Kevin Pietersen, cricketer (b. 27 June 1980).

Jonty Rhodes, national cricketer (b. 27 July 1969)

Tom Sharpe, novelist, who described the city as "half the size of a New York cemetery and twice as dead". He was deported to England following his book Riotous Assembley based on Pietermaritzburg.

Guy Pier, Value Investor (b. Feb., 4th 1966 in Grays hospital)

Dale Stewart, bassist of Seether, is also a former resident of Pietermaritzburg.

Kevin Volans, composer (b. 6 July 1949)

Tim Groenewald, Derbyshire and Warwickshire Cricketer (b. 10 January 1984)