Nestled in the Central Highlands, Windhoek is Namibia’s administrative, commercial and, to some extent, geographical nerve centre. At just over 5400 feet above sea level, Windhoek enjoys clean, dry air that is a welcome relief from the inhospitable desert climate that dominates much of the rest of the country.
Though the German influence is unmistakable, Windhoek is a rich blend of multiple cultures – the Kavango, Owambo, Damara, Herero, San, Caprivian and Nama, dwell side by side with residents of European ancestry. This is one city that is famous for being orderly and staid. The city centre is always clean with the streets and buildings meticulously planned.
Most foreign tourists arriving in Namibia will touch down at Windhoek first.
- Katutura Township – This is the liveliest township in Windhoek. Think of it as being to Windhoek what Soweto is to Johannesburg. It even has a market named Soweto. However, unlike townships in South Africa that are notorious for their high crime rate, Katutura is fairly safe. That being said, tourists should avoid venturing in alone and would be better off with a guide.
- Windhoek Castles – Three castles – Heinitzburg, Schwerinsburg and Sanderburg – in the city’s suburbs are a typical example of colonial German architecture. Heinitzburg is today a top notch hotel but the other 2 castles are privately owned homes.
- Lutheran Christ Church – A Lutheran church constructed at the close of the 19th century that is today one of Windhoek’s most recognisable landmark. It was built from local sandstone.
- Alte Feste Fort – Completed in 1892, this fort has been converted to house Namibia’s National Museum. Exhibits include photos and memorabilia from colonial times and several indigenous artefacts.
- Tintenpalast (Parliament of Namibia) – Once the apartheid regime’s legislative assembly, the Parliament of Namibia building now hosts the country’s national assembly.
- Daan Viljoen Game Park – 11 miles west of the city is the scenic Daan Viljoen Game Park. It stands out from other animal parks in Southern Africa due to the absence of dangerous animals. As such visitors can walk through the park as they observe the herbivores doing their thing. Species you can see here include kudus, gemsboks, springboks, zebras, elands, warthogs and hartebeests. There are also more than 200 bird species.
- Namibia Breweries – Namibia Breweries are the manufacturers of Windhoek Lager, one of the most respected beer brands in Africa. The old brewery building is open to visitors on guided tours.
- Old Magistrates’ Court – Originally meant to be the residence of a state architect, this 1898 building was quickly converted into a magistrates’ court. Today it is home to the Namibia Conservatorium.