A Brief History of Windhoek

    Situated within a basin surrounded by the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains, Windhoek is Namibia’s well-known capital, located in the country’s epicentre. The city currently hosts approximately two hundred thousand people and is a thriving cultural and historical hub, growing at an exponential rate. No train trip to Namibia is complete without a stop in the fascinating country’s bustling capital. Characterised by distinctive German style buildings and an alluring cleanliness, the metropolis boasts a number of attractions indicative of its somewhat turbulent and varied past. Cultural and historical enthusiasts should prioritise a visit to the Christuskirche (Christ Church), Tintenpalast (Parliament Buildings) and Alte Feste Fort, which was once the stronghold of the German colonialists and, today, somewhat ironically, houses a museum championing Namibian independence efforts.

    In 1884, a declaration of a German protectorate over German South-West Africa was issued. This resulted in a German colony being established which retained its power up until World War One, when South African troops marched into Windhoek and claimed the area on behalf of Britain. Development of the city was largely halted during this period, up until after World War Two when the expansion efforts were once again resumed. Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990, and the South African government recognised Windhoek as the nation’s capital.

    Ethnic names for the city translate to ‘firewater’ and ‘place of steam’ in reference to the gurgling hot water springs located in the area. ‘Windhoek’ means ‘windy corner’ and it is not certain how this name came into being – some suggest that it’s a deviation of the name ‘Winterhoek,’ bestowed on the region by a Nama leader called Jonker Afrikaner. Today the area is a multicultural melting pot, with evidence of its German past still tangible in the wealth of German citizens and restaurants located in the vicinity. That said, the city has a culture all of its own, perhaps best exemplified in its home-brewed beer and outstanding meat products. It bustles with innovative, new businesses and is the country’s commercial and business hub.