Windhoek is the capital city of Namibia and situated in a valley that is surrounded by the Auasberghe Mountains. The city has an airy, European feel to it as it was mainly built by the Germans before independence.
The main street, Independance Avenue, is the centre of a shopping complex that is modern and expanding rapidly. There are permanent shops as well as street vendors who sell anything from fashion to food.
A lot of the historical buildings in the city were built at the turn of the 20th Century, and are within walking distance of the centre of the town. There is a sculpture that is particularly impressive in the middle of the main mall, which is made of 33 meteorites that were found south of the city. They are thought to have been part of the world’s heaviest meteorite shower ever, from about 600 million years ago. The west side of Independence Avenue has three fine buildings on it which were designed by Willi Sander, a German architect.
On the right is Erkraths Building, the centre is Gathemann House and to the left is the Kronprinz Hotel. These are all distinguishable as European houses by the design of the roofs, which are designed to prevent accumulation of snow on top of the house, ironically! In the Zoo Park palm trees rest on green lawns, and in one particular spot a metre high Elephant Column stands. This is the site where elephant remains and tools were discovered, and the carvings on the column depict an elephant hunt. A fossil of an elephant skull sits on the top of the column, making an impressive sight. Windhoek’s most famous building is the Christus Kirche, a church in art nouveau and neo-Gothic style built out of local sandstone.
The museums and galleries in Windhoek are second only to those in Swakopmund. The best museum is the Alte Feste and State Museum, which concentrates on Namibia’s history and has old wagons and a steam engine on the front terrace of the building. There is a wing on the rock-art and beadwork of Namibia as well.
There are plenty of places to eat here, and European cuisine is served in most restaurants and cafés. European style fast-food is quickly becoming popular as well; pies, burgers, hot dogs and so on are available in most of the shopping malls. There are many cafés where lunch and light meals are the speciality, and they often have good desserts and teas to sample. The restaurants have food from Italy, Portugal, and even Ethiopia; and the food is very affordable and tasty.
Gathemann House restaurant and the Hotel Heintzberg restaurant are two highly recommended a la carte establishments. Joe's Beer House is an excellent informal bar and restaurant where many locals gather and has a great atmosphere. Pre-booking is usually necessary at most better known establishments.
There are a few cinemas and nightclubs to try if you are feeling lively, as well as a few concerts to attend. The best night to try this is either a Friday or Saturday. Otherwise, there are a number of excellent bars in hotels around the city. If you would like to explore a bit more of the city, there are a few bars that are in the city itself that may appeal, and are friendly and welcoming.
For those who would like genuine Namibian crafts and curios, the Post Street Mall has the city's largest displays, with the items on sale placed on colourful blankets on the floor in front of shops. Basketwork and carvings are also available, and these are best found at the western end of Fidel Castro Street.
For leather goods, this is an excellent place to search, with lots of ostrich, game and karakul leathers on sale. The deals are good and the items last for a long time, and are worth the investment. If the process of making leather appeals to you, there is a tannery 20 km away from Windhoek that is worth a visit.
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