A Travellerspoint blog

Last Days.

A Visit to Pretoria.


On our last full day we went on a trip to one of South Africa's capital cities - Pretoria. Pretoria is not far from Johannesburg and as the cities are growing bigger and bigger, they may eventually join together.

At first we had planned to go to Pretoria on our own using the gautrain, but when I realized that the Voortrekkers' Monument was far from the centre and our time would be limited I decided it made more sense to go on a tour.

We were picked up from our hotel in the afternoon. Our driver's name was Walter. He was very informative about South Africa's history and told us a lot about it on the way.

The first sight we visited was the Voortrekkers' Monument. The Voortrekkers' Monument commemorates the monumental trek made by the Afrikaners between 1835 and 1854 to escape British domination in the Cape Colony. The Afrikaners travelled in a large circle of wagons pulled by oxen. The Voortrekkers' Monument was designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk and dates from 1949.

The Voortrekkers' Monument.

Wagons are arranged in a circle round the monument to show how they travelled.

The main entrance of the building leads into the domed Hall of Heroes. This is where the world's longest marble frieze is displayed. It shows various scenes from the trek such as the Afrikaners falling ill with malaria. It also shows their meeting with the Zulu chief, Dingane. The Voortrekkers tried to negotiate with Dingane for land, but after agreeing to give them some, he suddenly ordered his soldiers to kill them. This led to the Voortrekkers, under the leadership of Andries Pretorius, fighting against the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River. Around three thousand Zulus were killed in this battle.

The Voortrekkers' Monument.

The Voortrekkers' Monument.

The Voortrekkers' Monument.

The Voortrekkers' Monument.

The main focus of the Monument is the cenotaph in the centre of the Cenotaph Hall, It can also be viewed from the Hall of Heroes and from the dome of the building. The Cenotaph Hall also contains amazingly detailed wall tapestries, depicting the Voortrekkers' journey. Plus it has a painting of the trek and relics such as cannons, wagons and the biggest bibles I have ever seen.








At the top of the monument it is possible to go outside to look at the view. Far away in the distance is the Union Building. I had to take it using a very strong zoom and it is not very clear.

View from the top of the monument.

Hazy view from the top of the monument.

At the main outside entrance of the monument there is a sculpture by Anton van Wouw called a Woman and her two Children. On each corner of the Monument there is a Statue of a Voortrekker leader: Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter and an "unknown" leader.

statues at the monument.

Woman and her two Children.

Next we visited Paul Kruger's House which is now a museum. This is more centrally located. Paul Kruger was a Boer leader and the President of the South African Republic. His Pretoria residence was built in 1884 by architect Tom Claridge. The cement for the building was mixed with milk rather than water as it was such poor quality. The house was lavishly furnished with Kruger's furniture and belongings. The very bed he died in was shipped back here from Switzerland where he died in exile. The house has a lovely garden and at the back of it you can see the train Kruger used to travel around in. There are some out buildings here, too filled with Kruger's carriages and gifts he was given by various world leaders. There are two stone lions in front of the house. These were presented to President Kruger in 1896 by mining magnate Barney Barnato.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

Opposite Paul Kruger's House.

Paul Kruger's House.

In the garden.

In the garden.



Gifts from overseas.

Next we headed to Church Square in the centre of Pretoria. This square was originally used as a market place. It was named after the church buildings that stood in its centre. There were three of these at different time periods, but they have all been demolished. Now in the centre of the square stands a statue of Paul Kruger. There are several important buildings around the square such as: the Palace of Justice, and the Ou Raadsaal or Old Council Chamber. The Palace of justice was where the Rivonia Trial took place. During this trial, Nelson Mandela and other ANC members were charged with treason. They were found guilty and given life sentences.

The Palace of Justice.

Paul Kruger statue.

Church Square.

Paul Kruger statue.

After that we went to the Union buildings. The Union Buildings are the official seat of the South African Government. They were designed by Sir Herbert Baker. Apparently the clock chimes here are identical to those of Big Ben in London. The two wings of the building represent two languages: English and Afrikaans. There are gardens stretching down the hill from the Union Building. These contain a huge statue of Nelson Mandela. There is also a statue of a man standing by his horse. There are great views from here over the gardens and over Pretoria. In the distance you can see the Voortrekkers' Memorial.

The Union Buildings.

The Union Buildings.

Nelson Mandela Statue.

Horse and rider statue.

Views from the Union Building.

Views from the Union Building.

Views from the Union Building.

Views from the Union Building.

When we left here our guide drove us past many embassies then we headed back to Foxwood House for a magnificent dinner and a good night's rest. Then in the morning we took an ez shuttle to the airport and boarded a plane back to Hong Kong and that was the end of our third visit to Africa.

Posted by irenevt 05:18 Archived in South Africa Tagged pretoria

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Wonderful trip. Thank you for sharing it.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, we enjoyed it very much. Thank you for following it.All the best, Irene

by irenevt

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