- Area: 5,133 km2 (1,982 sq mi)
- Calling Code: +264
- Currency: Namibian dollar (NAD)
- Population (EST): 322,500
- Official language: English, other
- Time Zone: WAT (UTC+1)
10 Reasons to Visit Windhoek
1. National Monuments in Windhoek
Windhoek takes pride in its independence and cultural heritage, and that's why the monuments that scatter the city in celebration of Namibia's great heroes are so popular amongst tourists. The city itself has a number of colonial era buildings that are of great interest, but sites like Heroes' Acre are of particular interest. There are over 175 graves at the Acre, reminding the people of Namibia about the pain of the past, and the hope for a prosperous future. Also very powerful is the white obelisk, a distinct landmark that you can see from the city centre. Its gorgeous design of white marble and black granite leave an indelible mark.
2. Historical Buildings
If there's something that you will ﬁnd a lot of in Windhoek, it's historic buildings. It seems like everywhere you turn there's another landmark that tells a story about the city's past. Take for instance the Windhoek Railway Station. This charming building is a must-see, and if you're traveling by train in or around the city, you're in for a treat. The beautiful architecture and bustling energy are exciting to experience. There's also the Old Prison on Goethe Street, which is open for touring. The College of the Arts is a beautiful piece of architecture, and conveniently located on Fidel Castro Street. Don't forget about other important structures like the Turnhalle Building on Bahnhof Street, as well as the Old Government Survey Ofﬁce.
It seems strange that the cemeteries of Windhoek are popular with tourists, but they're actually quite pleasant to visit, thanks to their natural, somber beauty. Perhaps the most popular is the Old Windhoek Cemetery, where you'll ﬁnd grave sites for the soldiers who fought in the Nama and Herero Wars. There are also civilians, settlers, and German ofﬁcials buried here, dating back to 1892. The other great cemetery is right across the street, and it's known as the Old Location Cemetery. The most notable spot within is a mass grave for the people who were killed in 1959 for refusing to be moved to Katatura.
4. Von Francois Fort
Built by the Schutztruppe to protect horses and cattle from the Witbooi-Namas, today it's a nice spot to take in a bit of Windhoek history, and learn about its military past. It's a fascinating structure, and makes for a good afternoon stroll around its imposing frame. Note that the Fort is located on Farm 371, in Khomas Hochland. Whether you're a military buff, or just into learning more about the history of Namibia, this is a great addition to your itinerary.
After all the walking around and looking at famous buildings, one does get quite an appetite. Paul's is a fantastic little brasserie, patisserie, and coffee shop right in the heart of Windhoek's craft market. There is quite an eclectic mix of food to be found here; from salads to tapas, to fresh baked rolls and hearty meals; you're sure to ﬁnd something for everyone. The ingredients are fresh, and they follow a low fat, no MSG menu plan. This is a great spot to have some healthy food, in a prime location.
6. Ten-man House (Tienmannhaus)
Ten-man House, or Tienmannhaus as it is also known, was constructed in 1906 by orders of the German colonial government. There were 10 single bachelors who worked for the government at the time, and this house was built to be their living quarters. The foundation and walls of the building are made from unbaked clay, with its original iron roof still in tact. The building is quite impressive for how well preserved it is, and it's worth the trip to see it in person.
7. Stunning Churches
Along with all its popular, historic buildings, Windhoek also is proud of its many beautiful churches. Take for example the oldest Evangelical Lutheran church, designed by Gottlieb Redecker. Many elements from the interior of the church were donated by Germany, including the stained glass windows, bronze bells, as well as the altar. Built in a neo-Romantic style, there are also touches of art nouveau in it's design. The tower stretches 42 meters into the sky, and the entrance is made entirely of Carrarian marble from Italy.
If you're still in the mood for stunning churches, make a point to see the Roman Catholic Cathedral, today christened as St. Mary's Cathedral. Here is again another display of stunning neo-Romantic design, with stained glass windows and stone ﬂooring all made in Namibia.
There are so many museums in Windhoek that one doesn't know where to begin. Depending upon your tastes and interests, you may be drawn to the Geological Survey Museum, the Railway Museum, the Alte Feste Museum, and so much more. Of particular interest to visitors is the National Sciences Museum. Here's an interesting spot to view colourful and sparkling minerals, fossils, meteorites, and other geological marvels. Learn about Namibia's mining activity in full detail, through their collection of samples, photos and maps.
9. Zoo Park
Ok, so this is not actually a zoo, it's really just a nice, verdant park, and a special place to relax and have a picnic during the day. You'll ﬁnd scores of businessmen here at their lunch hour, having a breath and relaxing in the tranquil scenery. The park actually was a zoo until 1962, but now the only animals to be found are fellow human beings. It is believed that in the Stone Age this was the site of much elephant hunting, as the remains were found of two elephants, along with quartz hunting tools.
10. Hofmeyer Walk
The Hofmeyer walk is fantastic for those who love to hike and take in the fresh air. The trail takes you through Klein Windhoek Valley, and lasts for about an hour at a leisurely pace. The hillside vegetation and cactus-like plants are quite beautiful.