Capital of Namibia
Windhoek is the largest city in the Republic of Namibia as well as its capital. Located in the Khomas Highland plateau region of central Namibia, the city lies around 5,600 feet above sea level. The population of Windhoek as of 2012 was around 322,500, but this number continues to grow as a result of an influx of people coming into the city from all around Namibia.
The city itself was actually founded on two separate occasions. The original town developed around a permanent spring that was well known to the indigenous, pastoral people of the area and grew quickly after Jonker Afrikaner settled and built a church on the site in 1840. In the coming decades however, hostilities, as well as multiple wars, led to the neglect and subsequent decay of the young settlement to such an extent that Windhoek was founded for a second time in 1890 by Curt Bon Francois, a Major in the Imperial Army.
In addition to being the political capital, Windhoek is also the country’s economic,social, and cultural center. Nearly every governmental body, cultural institution, and national enterprise of Namibia has its headquarters in the city. With so many people coming to Windhoek from around the country, it has become a vast melting pot of different cultures.
While many travelers use Windhoek as a stopping point on their way to see the many sights of the country, such as the towering sand dunes of the Namib Desert, there are many things to see and do in the city. One of the most notable landmarks of the city is the Alte Feste, or “Old Fortress”. Built in 1890, the fortress was designed by Curt Von Francois and was intended to be the headquarters of the German Schutzruppe during the colonization of South West Africa by the Germans. The location was chosen (even though the area was deserted at the time) because it was thought that it would act as a buffer zone between the Herero and the Nama tribes. The fort itself, however, never saw actual military involvement. While the foundation was laid in 1890, the building design was changed numerous times in its first years and the final layout wasn’t completed until 1915. The final design consisted of a high walled, inner courtyard and troop accommodations inside and four towers. The Alte Feste is the city’s oldest surviving building and the city as it is today was developed around it.
After Germany’s surrender in South West Africa during WWI, the fort was used as the headquarters for South Africa’s Union Troops. Today the building houses the National Museum of Namibia and is home to exhibits that Catalog the rich history of the country.