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Windhoek

The first founder of Windhoek is believed to be Jan Jonker Afrikaner, who built his house next to the present day South African High Commission when he settled there in 1840. Jan Jonker Afrikaner was the leader of the Orlam Nama people. He also built a stone church that could accommodate about 500 people for his community. The church also served as a school. Historians differ on how Windhoek got its name. Some say Afrikaner named it after his ancestral home Winterhoek near Tulbag in South Africa. Others believe the name was given to it because it’s a windy place. Local people, the Damara and Nama called Windhoek /Ai//gams meaning hot springs while the Herero called it Otjomuise which is translated as place of smoke referring to the hot springs that were found in the area.
Modern Windhoek was founded by Kurt Von Francois when he laid the stone foundations of the fort which is called the Alte Feste (Old fortress) on 18 October 1890. This is the oldest building in Windhoek and was built as the headquarters for the schutztruppe and later served for South African Troops. Later over the years the building was used as a hostel for Windhoek High School as from 1935. It became a museum in 1962 and still serves for that purpose in present day Namibia. The settlement developed more rapidly as from 1907 with more settlers arriving from South Africa and Germany. Businesses were opened in Kaiser Street, which is today known as the Independence Avenue.
Today Windhoek is the largest, and the capital city of Namibia. It is however a small city for the capital on international standards. Windhoek lies at an altitude of about 1650 m above sea level and is surrounded by mountains, Eros Mountains in the north, Auas Mountains in the south and Khomas Hochland mountain range south west. It has the population of about 325,000 people and is considered one of the cleanest cities in Africa.

Want to learn more about the city? Join a FREE Walking Tour, or the City & Township Tour.

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