- What do we know about Swakopmund?
- Swakopmund – a thoroughly German city
- Discover the sights of Swakopmund on your own
- Impressions along the way
Passengers whose cruise ships dock in Walvis Bay / Namibia are spoiled for choice. Should they opt for a desert tour, a visit to Sandwich Harbor Bay or the city of Swakopmund, which was laid out and shaped by German settlers? Each of the destinations mentioned has its own special appeal. The first two destinations offer pure landscape; In comparison, Swakopmund presents itself as an example of a cultivated historical heritage of German colonial interests. Our choice falls on Swakopmund.
What do we know about Swakopmund?
Today it is unimaginable, and yet it is not without truth: The German Reich had colonies called “protected areas” in parts of China, Africa and the Pacific. The colonies also included "German Southwest Africa", today's Namibia.
When looking for a suitable location for a harbour, the most likely choice would have been Walvis Bay. Unfortunately, it was already in British hands. The German Reich struck gold 35 kilometers further north. In 1892 it started building a jetty and a town called Swakopmund.
Walvis Bay - Docks
Swakopmund – a thoroughly German city
Maybe it was due to a limited imagination; perhaps a clear sign should also be set with the layout of the city. In terms of architecture, Swakopmund still resembles – apart from the surrounding desert landscape and the grid-like layout – any medium-sized town in Germany. The buildings have German names, some street names are of German origin, Black Forest cake is served in the café and the beer is brewed according to the German Purity Law.
Swakopmund - Libertina Amathila Ave
With almost 45.000 inhabitants (census 2011), Swakopmund is Namibia's fourth largest city. Due to its good climatic conditions, Swakopmund is a heavily frequented tourist attraction for national and international holidaymakers, primarily in the Namibian summer time (December and January). The city offers many activities such as desert tours, camel rides, beach walks and fishing. The tourism sector and trade are the main sources of income for the municipality.
Discover the sights of Swakopmund on your own
We have prepared our visit to Swakopmund well. Our tour takes us exclusively through the manageable and safe center of the city. For the transport from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund we booked a bus transfer offered by the shipping company. A taxi ride would also have been an option. Our bus driver stops at the State House, the former Imperial District Court. The building, which resembles a fortress, is used as the summer residence of the President of the Republic of Namibia.
The red and white lighthouse looms behind the State House. It is one of the attractions of the community. The beacon, put into operation in 1902, could be in any coastal town in Germany. In good visibility conditions, the visual signal can be seen 35 nautical miles away. The lighthouse is surrounded by palm and other trees. Perhaps that is the reason why there is a group of free-ranging, cute-looking helmeted guinea fowl in the immediate vicinity.
Marine Memorial / Marine Monument
Between the State House and the Swakopmund Museum there has been the martial-looking Marine Monument since 1908. It is dedicated to the soldiers of the First Marine Expeditionary Force who lost their lives in the Herero War of 1904 and 1905. The freeze frame shows an operational marine and a wounded comrade.
Swakopmund - Marine Memorial
Unfortunately we don't have the time to visit the neighboring Swakopmund Museum. Founded in 1951, the private exhibition covers many subject areas. To name just a few of the exhibits: There are insights into Namibia's flora and fauna (prepared), the way of life of the indigenous tribes, the colonists' vehicles, flags, weapons, medals and much more.
Location: Beach St
Hotel House of Telne
At the corner of Tobias Hainyeko and Daniel Tjongarero Street is the Hotel House of Telne. It is one of those buildings in the city that are strongly influenced by colonial architecture. We are not concerned with the hotel, but with the building as such. It is no coincidence that the large house attracts the attention of visitors. As you can read, his story was very checkered. It served as a post and telegraph office, later as a residence for municipal employees and even later as an administrative center.
Swakopmund Hotel - House of Telne
Namibia is one of the world's leading mining nations when it comes to diamonds, gold, lead and other mineral resources. The Crystal Gallery is a privately run geological museum that presents numerous quartz and gemstones to its visitors. The highlight of the strikingly modern building is the world's largest known quartz crystal, which is three meters high. Another special feature is an artificial, walk-in crystal cave. If you like, you can buy gemstones from the region in the adjoining trading area.
Location: Theo-Ben Gurirab Ave
Old district court
Diagonally across from the Crystal Gallery on Theo-Ben Gurirab Ave is the old district court. Originally conceived as a private school, the yellow-painted building was later used as a district court. A lettering documents the initial purpose of the building.
Swakopmund - Old District Court
Half-timbered beer garden
We are still on Theo-Ben Gurirab Ave. If you fancy a Bavarian beer garden and hearty Bavarian food and beer during your stay in Swakopmund, you will feel in good hands in the half-timbered beer garden.
The Hohenzollernhaus, built by a private individual in the neo-baroque style at the beginning of the 20th century, was a hotel and administrative headquarters. In 1972 it was declared a National Monument. The building is currently divided into condominiums. Therefore it cannot be visited. A look at the facade design is always worthwhile.
Location: Albertina Amathila Ave/corner Tobias Hainyeko St
The historic fortifications of the Alte Kaserne are also on the Namibian National Heritage List. The country “owes” the massive fortress to the German Reich. The old barracks were built in 1905 and 1906 to house workers from the 2nd Imperial Railway Construction Company. Later, the soldiers of the Schutztruppe were billeted there. Two striking towers adorn the 55 by 45 meter building in the entrance area. Small towers were placed at the corners.
Location: Bismarck St/corner of Anton Lubowski Ave
Princess Rupprecht home
And another national monument of Namibia: The Art Nouveau building, erected at the beginning of the 20th century, initially served as a military hospital for the German Schutztruppe. Just ten years later, the facility was converted into a convalescent home for the Bavarian Red Cross Association, German South West Africa. Part of the building is currently used by the Hotel Prinzessin Rupprecht. The other part is the location of a nursing home.
Location: Bismarck St opposite the Old Barracks
Swakopmund - Hotel Princess Rupprecht Home
National Marine Aquarium
The recently restored aquarium features fish and other sea creatures native to the frigid Benguela Current, influenced by Antarctic ocean currents. The seawater-fed pools offer an introduction to Namibia's marine wildlife. A tunnel leading through the main tank provides the best impressions, from which rays and sharks can be observed.
Location: Beach St 1
A beach promenade belongs to a seaside resort. Worth seeing on this tidy but not very exciting path is the old jetty called "Jetty".
Since Swakopmund, which was occupied by the Germans, had no harbour, unlike Walvis Bay, which was held by the English, a jetty had to be built. It was completed in April 1905 by the 2nd Imperial Railway Construction Company quartered in the old barracks. It was used to land passengers and goods, as well as for export purposes. The pier was 275 meters long and nine meters wide. She owned tracks and cranes. In 1912 the construction of a steel bridge was advanced. It should be 640 meters long. After the outbreak of the First World War, the construction project stopped at 260 meters in length. When entering the jetty, visitors pass the restaurant "Jetty 1905". Opposite him is a second bar called "Tug" (tug) on land.
The Woermannhaus is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and oldest buildings in the city. The half-timbered building complex for a Hamburg trading company of the same name is interesting not least because of its observation tower (Damara Tower). After restoration work in the 70s, the building is used for cultural purposes. It houses a public library, tourist information and the Woermannhaus Gallery. This is a permanent exhibition of Namibian painters. The Damara Tower provides a good view of the city. It goes without saying that the building is on the Namibian National Monuments List.
Location: Bismarck St
Within sight of the State House, see lighthouse, we find the "Craft Market Swakopmund". Vendors sell handicrafts that make good souvenirs for those at home or as a personal memento of an extraordinary travel destination.
Craft Market Swakopmund
Our tour of Swakopmund ends at the State House. The bus that will take us back to Walvis Bay is already waiting.
Impressions along the way