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What to see in Pretoria, Gauteng

What to see in Pretoria, Gauteng

Pretoria didn’t develop as quickly as Johannesburg did over the years but two of the most impressive buildings are located in this beautiful Jakkarandastad (city, filled with the most beautiful purple flower trees called the Jakkaranda).

The first building is The Union Building that was built on Meintjieskop, Arcadia, named after Stephanus Jacobus Meintjies. Arcadia was farmland, originally belonging to Andries Francois du Toit, who then sold it on. Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of The Union Building and it was built from light sandstone. The building was completed in 1913, 3 years after the colonies united, forming the South African Union.

The building is 275 m long and has a halve-round shape with two wings at the sides, representing the English and Afrikaans (Boer) population of South Africa separately at that time. The gardens of the Union Building consist of roses imported from England, plants from Rotterdam and others from South Africa. Today, tourists from all over the world come to see this building.

Parliament spends the winter months in Pretoria at the Union Building, while they spend their summer months down in Cape Town.

The Voortrekker Monument is the second great building and can be seen from almost any location in Pretoria. It was built in honour of the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony and embarked on the Great Trek back in 1836. This monument is the icon for all Afrikaans South Africans. The architect for the monument was Gerard Moerdijk and construction started on the 13th of July 1937. The monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949 and stands 40 metres high with a base of 40 m by 40 m.

An amphitheatre which seats 20 000 was built to the north west of the monument in 1949. The focus point of the monument is the cenotaph. On top of the Hall of Heroes is a dome from where you can view the inside of the monument. The sun shines through this dome only one day a year at exactly 12 o’clock on the 16th of December, onto the middle of the cenotaph and the words “Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika” (we for Thee South Africa).

This ray of sunshine symbolises God’s blessing on the lives of the Voortrekkers. The 16th of December is the day of remembrance, a promise that was made to God to always remember this day, treating it as a Sunday, every year, because He was with them when they fought and defeated the Zulu’s at the Battle of Bloodriver. Lots of lives were lost on that day and at present, we remember those who lost their lives.

People in South Africa have different views and it means something different to everyone in regards to the Monument as well as the Battle of Bloodriver. Doesn’t matter what your opinion is these days, these two building are very impressive and has to be visited! Go there, see the buildings, read about the history and learn a little more about how South Africa became the country it is today!