Windhoek, capital city of Namibia
The German-influenced city of Windhoek is the capital and commercial nerve center of Namibia. Set in the Central Highlands, the city's climate may be dry, but its personality is anything but that. Windhoek is where the country's incredible ethnic mix comes together, and the diverse influences of the Owambo, Caprivian, Kavango, Damara, Nama, San, Herero and European peoples is reflected in its wide array of architecture, restaurants and cultural sights. There are few more diverse cities in the region, and the melting pot of Windhoek sets an example for the rest of Africa.
Windhoek is an ideal jumping-off point for safaris. The Daan Viljoen Game Park is just 18 kilometers west of the city center, and the lack of seriously dangerous animals means you can explore the park's grounds freely on foot. The wildlife-rich desert hills are abundant with mountain zebras, gemsboks, hartebeests, kudus, elands, warthogs and more. The park is also celebrated for its amazing birdlife. The rare pin-tailed whydah and green-backed heron are just two of the over 200 species that thrive in the park. The open thorn-scrub environment is conducive to wildlife viewing, and the three trails that crisscross the park offer great views of the city in the distance.
If the thought of encountering free-roaming wildlife is a bit too adventurous for you, there is plenty to explore in the city center. The capital's best-recognized landmark is the Christuskirche, a German Lutheran church that dominates the top of Fidel Castro Street. Made from local sandstone, the unusual building combines Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic styles. Built in 1907, the highlight of the church is its altarpiece, a copy of Rubens' masterpiece “The Resurrection of Lazarus.”
Indigenous materials were used to create the remarkable Tintenpalast building, now home to Namibia's parliament. Designed in 1913 by Gottlieb Redecker, the building's name translates as “ink palace,” an allusion to the amount of ink spilled over government documents. The lush Parliament Gardens surround the Tintenpalast, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The National Museum is housed in the capital's oldest surviving building, dating back to 1890. Once the headquarters of the Schutztruppe, the building now houses a collection of indigenous artifacts and memorabilia from the colonial period. Divided into two sections, the museum gives visitors the political and historical context necessary for fully appreciating further exploration of the country. The Alte Feste section is devoted to the rebel movement that led to independence, and the gruesome pictures of the old king's execution will stay with visitors long after they leave the gallery. The Owela section showcases the country's fascinating ethnography. Both collections are technically free, but the museum staff will ask you for a donation until you relent.
Other sights worth exploring in Windhoek include the National Council's meeting site of Turnhalle, the colonial-era Gathemann's Complex, Werth Lookout, the early-20th century Cape Dutch-style Train Station, the Old Magistrates' Court, the grand State House, the Ludwig von Estorff House, the Owambo Campaign Memorial and the Post Street Mall, the heart of the capital's shopping district. There, visitors can shop for curios, clothing and artwork and view a display of meteorites collected from the Gibeon meteor shower.
An aerial view of Windhoek
Windhoek Geographical Location
Windhoek is located in the center of Namibia on the northern side of the Khomas Highlands.
Windhoek is the largest city in Namibia with a population of approximately 235,000.
English is the official language of Namibia but the common language is Afrikaans. German is spoken by about a third of the population as a first language.
Windhoek Predominant Religion
- 85% Christian
- 15% Indigenous Beliefs
Missionaries during the 19th century heavily influenced the religious demographics of today.
The Namibian Dollar is the official currency of Namibia.
Windhoek is warm during the winter and hot during the summer. There is very little rainfall during the winter months; some months experience no rainfall at all, while the summer is considered the wet season. Windhoek is a dry city overall and droughts are common.
Windhoek Main Attractions
- Katutura Township
- National Botanic Garden of Namibia
Other Attraction in Windhoek
- NamibRand Nature Reserve
- National Museum of Namibia
- Kalahari Sands Casino