Thoroughbreds and petrol heads, the Midrand story

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Our third episode aired on DEKATv yesterday at 5:30pm on DSTV’s channel 144, where our Fine & Country South Africa CEO, Linda Erasmus, ventured headlong into the metropolitan melting pot that is Midrand. Here is the Midrand story.

Horsepower takes on a whole new meaning when you cross under the Allandale Bridge into the rapidly developing and evolving suburb of Midrand, which was only established as recently as 1981. Being a relatively new kid on the block as more established cities go, Midrand wasted no time in becoming a first-class African city. There is something for everyone here.

With the Kyalami Racetrack as one its cornerstones and the highest equestrian residential density in South Africa, Midrand truly is a thoroughbred city. Its list of pedigree includes the Mall of Africa, Waterfall Estate, the Nizamiye Mosque (South Africa’s largest mosque), its own airport and of course a castle. Combine this with breathtaking views, upmarket residential estates and a landscape that retains a genuinely indigenous look and you have a perfectly balanced city and country vibe. It is this mix that has added to its appeal and popularity.

Looking at its attractions the Kyalami Racetrack is an obvious first choice and its position pre-dates the official establishment of Midrand. Built in the early 1960’s, this sweeping circuit became home to the South African Formula One Grand Prix and one of the fastest circuits on the calendar in 1967. The Kyalami Racetrack has undergone a number of overhauls and changes over its history but can boast that Formula One royalty like Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher and the like have all chased down the coveted chequered flag here. Kyalami set many pulses racing and wasn’t without its fair share of crashes and fatalities. Sanctions in the mid-1980’s put paid to the South African Grand Prix which was briefly resurrected in the 1990’s but the track was mired in red tape and mismanagement that put paid to the South Africa Grand Prix for good in 1993. Now home to Porsche South Africa and hosting local events again, it is hoped that Kyalami will once again attract spectators in the thousands and return to its former glory.

As we go from horsepower to horses, the local Lippizaners in Midrand are definitely more than worth a mention. What you might not know is that the Lipizzaner is the oldest human-bred horse in the world. Its noble ancestors can be traced to Carthaginian and Roman horses at the time Julius Caesar was Emperor of Rome. The Lipizzaner breed itself dates back to around 1562 when Archduke Maximilian started to breed Spanish horses as a need arose for military horses with strength, loyalty and courage. These beautiful animals are characterised by a perfect and noble physique, graceful movements, the ability to learn, liveliness, good nature, courage, toughness and stamina. You will no finer specimens than in Midrand, the quality of the Lippizaners bred and trained here are world famous and highly sought-after. Today, the South African Lippizaners appear on film and television and at various public performances as well as their regular Sunday morning shows, which you can catch in Kyalami, Midrand. midrand-04

Gallagher Conference and Convention Centre is one of South Africa’s largest and most sophisticated convention centres also proudly calls Midrand home.

While on the subject of the nobility, the story of Midrand would not be complete with the story of the Kyalami Castle, which sprang up on a hill near the Leeukop Prison in 1992. Shrouded in mystery, commuters travelling on Main Road would often speculate on who built it, who lived in it – there were even rumours of a certain Michael Jackson residing there doing the rounds at one point. It was in fact built by a Greek millionaire who resided in it for a time before selling it on auction. This Arthurian-style castle and contains a spa, 24 suites, a luxury hotel, a restaurant, a conference centre and its own helipad. It was originally planned to provide for his extended family, but this was not to be the case and the Greek millionaire sailed off into the sunset and the Castle was sold on auction and converted into a tourist attraction with conference and hotel facilities. It was sold again in 2008 to the Church of Scientology and currently remains under the Church’s ownership where it is used as a lavish retreat for its members.

The subject of much speculation and hype, the Kyalami Castle remains a well-known landmark in Midrand
The subject of much speculation and hype, the Kyalami Castle remains a well-known landmark in Midrand

The Mall of Africa has forever changed the skyline of Midrand and opened with much fanfare earlier this year. The Mall of Africa is South Africa’s largest shopping mall ever built in a single phase, it is home to over 300 shops, many of which are flagship stores and international stores and franchises that align its aisles include Starbucks, Zara Home, H&M and Armani Man. The mall’s location is Midrand boasts exceptional access, location and visibility.

Named due to its perfect position as the halfway point between Pretoria and Johannesburg, Midrand presents the opportunity of residing in a humming and affluent hub. Midrand is the epitome of location, location, location. Midrand went from a slow trot to a galloping residential hub in very short time, never compromising on the quality of life its avenues offer those who proudly call it home.

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