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Exploring Windhoek

First full day.

sunny

We woke up next day in much better spirits having regained some energy after a much needed decent night's sleep. The hotel's breakfast buffet, in the same restaurant as we had eaten dinner, was also freezing and we quickly learned to forget the supposedly hot options and concentrate on the bread. As a former German colony, Namibia has excellent bread.

It was a Saturday and I get the impression that Windhoek, quiet at the best of times, is even quieter at the weekend. However, since we live in the crowds, noise and pollution of Hong Kong, we were delighted by the empty streets and open spaces.

Windhoek is the capital of Namibia. It is located on the Khomas Highland Plateau and has a population of almost 400,000. Windhoek was originally called AiGams, which means hot water, by the Nama tribes who occupied this area. It was called this because of the hot springs located in the area. Later Oorlam chief, Jonker Afrikaner, changed the town's name to Windhoek which means windy corner. The Oorlams were a mixed race people driven out of the Cape area of present day South Africa by the British. German colonial Windhoek was founded in October 1890 when Curt von Francois reached Windhoek with thirty-two of his men.

There was a statue of Curt von Francois outside the Windhoek Municipality Buildings near our hotel. Curt von Francois was born in Luxembourg in 1856. He was a soldier and a geographer who explored and mapped several parts of Africa. He was sent to South West Africa, present day Namibia, in 1889 to help quell an uprising by local Herero tribal people against German colonial rule. He occupied the ruins of Jonker Afrikaner's destroyed town of Windhoek and began building the Alte Feste Fort to house his Schutztruppe or German colonial troops.

Curt von Francois.

Curt von Francois.

After looking at the statue we headed off to the Zoo Park. The Zoo Park is a small, pleasant grassy park with a Chinese style pagoda, a little bridge and a memorial to the German Schutztruppe who were killed in the Nama uprisings against German colonial rule. The memorial dates from 1897.

memorial to the Schutztruppe.

memorial to the Schutztruppe.

Me at the Chinese Pagoda, Zoo Park.

Me at the Chinese Pagoda, Zoo Park.

Peter on the bridge, Zoo Park.

Peter on the bridge, Zoo Park.

From the Zoo Park we walked to the nearby Christus Kirche or Christ Church. The Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Windhoek was started by Pastor Heinrich Siebe in January 1896. Less than a year later, he had attracted enough members to justify the construction of a church. Christus Kirche, the oldest Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, was designed by Gottlieb Redecker and consecrated on 16th October 1910. We could not go inside the church as it was locked.

Christ Church.

Christ Church.

Christ Church.

Christ Church.

Actually many of Windhoek's major sites are next to Christ Church. We next walked to the Alte Feste Fort which is now a museum. However, this was closed and we could only look inside its outer courtyard.

Just outside the Alte Feste stands the Genocide Memorial. This depicts a man and woman raising their arms to reveal their broken chains. This symbolizes their newly gained freedom. The words 'Their Blood Waters Our Freedom' are written on the memorial. This memorial was erected in remembrance of the suffering of the Nama and Herero people at the hands of the Schutztruppe during the 1904 to 1907 war. This war is considered to be the first attempted genocide of the twentieth century.

The Genocide Memorial.

The Genocide Memorial.

The Genocide Memorial from the back.

The Genocide Memorial from the back.

The outer yard of the Alte Feste houses several old carts, wagons and engines. Then outside the grounds of the fort there are some old cannons.

Me in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Me in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Peter in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Peter in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Me in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Me in the outer courtyard of the Alte Feste.

Peter outside Alte Feste.

Peter outside Alte Feste.

Peter outside Alte Feste.

Peter outside Alte Feste.

Next we visited the Independence Memorial Museum next to the Alte Feste. This museum was officially opened in March 2014. Outside the front of this building stands a statue of Sam Nujoma.

Sam Nujoma was born in 1929. He was a Namibian revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist and politician. He was the first President of independent Namibia and remained president from 1990 to 2005. His statue stands on the former site of the Reiterdenkmal statue which depicted a member of the German colonial Schutztruppe. Sam Nujoma's statue proudly holds aloft a copy of the Namibian constitution

The Independence Memorial Museum was built by the North Koreans. It has three floors of exhibits. Floor 1 deals with Namibia under German colonial rule and under the South African Apartheid regime. Floor 2 is about the armed struggle against Apartheid. Floor 3 is concerned with Namibian independence. At the top of the building there is a cafe with excellent viewing platforms, though if you want to take photos from the platforms, you must first buy a drink or risk being fined. I was a little surprised to see the notice on the door banning people from bringing guns and knives inside. The first floor of the museum contains some very disturbing and gruesome images. I am not going to put any on here as they are too depressing.

Namibia's fight for freedom.

Namibia's fight for freedom.

Namibian Independence.

Namibian Independence.

Sign on the cafe door.

Sign on the cafe door.

View over the closed Alte Feste.

View over the closed Alte Feste.

View over the Namibian Parliament.

View over the Namibian Parliament.

View over Christ Church.

View over Christ Church.

Looking towards Windhoek's three castles.

Looking towards Windhoek's three castles.

Me with a zebra in the cafe.

Me with a zebra in the cafe.

Sam Nujoma Statue outside the museum.

Sam Nujoma Statue outside the museum.

When we left the museum, we entered the gardens of the Namibian Parliament. These are beautifully laid out. Unfortunately, we were approached by a guard and told the gardens were about to close. However, the guard said it was all right if we took some photos before leaving, so we did and promptly discovered we had been locked in the gardens. I was standing at the gate wondering how on Earth we were going to get out, when a young lady outside the gate assured me I would be able to exit from the top of the gardens near the parliament building. This turned out to be true and a further advantage of leaving this way was that we passed by the Windhoek Cricket Club where a match was taking place.

The Namibian Parliament was originally known as the Tintenpalast or ink palace. Its grounds contain statues of three prominent Namibian activists: Herero chief Hosea Kutako- after whom the airport is named, Hendrik Samuel Witbooi and the Reverend Theophilus Hamutumbangela.

The Namibian Parliament.

The Namibian Parliament.

Hosea Kutako.

Hosea Kutako.

Hendrik Samuel Witbooi.

Hendrik Samuel Witbooi.

The Reverend Theophilus Hamutumbangela.

The Reverend Theophilus Hamutumbangela.

Cricket Match.

Cricket Match.

After visiting the parliament gardens, we went home via the craft market just to cool down a bit before setting out for more sightseeing. There were some lovely things in the craft market, but I saved my shopping for later as I did not want to carry everything with me to Swakopmund.

Craft Market.

Craft Market.

After a bit of a rest and a cool down in the hotel room, we headed off to Post Street Mall to see the Gibeon Meteorites. There are thirty meteorite pieces mounted on steel columns in Post Street Mall. These are millions of years old and were found in southern Namibia. On the way to the mall we passed several old German buildings.

Gibeon Meteorites.

Gibeon Meteorites.

After leaving Post Street, we passed the Roman Catholic Cathedral. This lovely building with its twin towers is known as St Mary's Cathedral. It was consecrated on the 24th of April 1932 and became a national monument on the 15th of June 1983.

St Mary's Cathedral.

St Mary's Cathedral.

Next we walked to Windhoek's historic railway station. This was built in 1912 by Deutsche Staatsbahn to create a rail link between Windhoek and Swakopmund. The station houses a Railway Museum, but this was closed when we visited. There are lots of railway engines around the station.

Windhoek Station.

Windhoek Station.

Steam engine outside station.

Steam engine outside station.

Peter with railway vehicles.

Peter with railway vehicles.

And more railway vehicles.

And more railway vehicles.

Near the station stands the Owambo Campaign Memorial which commemorates the 1917 fight against the Owambo chief Mandume. He committed suicide in order not to be captured by the German army.

Owambo Campaign Memorial.

Owambo Campaign Memorial.

On the way back home, we passed the Kudu Statue. A kudu is a kind of deer and this statue was sculpted by Professor Fritz Behn of Munich who had come on a visit to Namibia. It was unveiled in 1960. We also passed the National Museum of Art which had some interesting sculptures outside it.

Kudu Statue.

Kudu Statue.

Outside the National Museum of Art.

Outside the National Museum of Art.

Outside the National Museum of Art.

Outside the National Museum of Art.

Then it was back to the hotel for a swim and a much better dinner than the previous night as we ordered a la carte.

Sunset over our pool.

Sunset over our pool.

A hotter dinner.

A hotter dinner.

Posted by irenevt 08:59 Archived in Namibia Tagged namibia windhoek

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Comments

Getting locked in the garden sounds like something that would happen to us. Glad you found your way out.

by Beausoleil

It would have been a bit of a nightmare if we had had to climb out.

by irenevt

We only had a few hours in Windhoek right at the end of our trip, so I was interested to read and see more of it. A shame so many places were closed when you visited, but you still seem to have seen a lot in just one day!

by ToonSarah

Some of those closed places were open on our last afternoon. Windhoek isn't the greatest city in the world, but it is interesting in parts.

by irenevt

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