Union buildings & Voortrekker monument

Pretoria Travel Blog

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Statue of General Louis Botha,First prime minister of South Africa)

Today we did some more conventional sightseeing. First we stopped by the union buildings. This is where the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the President of the new South Africa was held and it’s also the seat of the South African government.

It's an enormous red sandstone and half-round shaped building with two wings spreading out from the middle part. The wings were supposed to symbolize the joining together of the Boer and English populations. We started walking from the bottom of the Meintjies Kop hill on which the buildings are located and slowly made our way up through the terraced gardens.
From the top of the Meintjies Kop hill you have a great view, we could even see
the place we were about to visit next; the Voortrekkersmonument at the other end of the city.


In 1938 the Voortrekkersmonument was build to mark the occasion of the trek of my Dutch ancestors (the Boers) northwards to Natal, now called KwaZulu-Natal, from the Cape Province.

Union buildings
  It was quite a bloody trek and the culmination of the bloodshed came with the battle of the Blood River where the Boers defeated 12,000 Zulus.

 

The huge cube shaped building is surrounded by the laager wall, a circular wall depicting 64 wagons, the same number brought to Blood River. On the corners of the Monument there are four statues, representing the leaders of the Voortrekkers. One of them is Andries Pretorius, after whom the city is named. Inside there’s a big hall, the Hall of Heroes, with a cenotaph in the middle. Every year on the 16th of December at noon the sun shines through a small hole in the roof of the monument to fall on the cenotaph, striking the words 'Ons vir Jou, Suid-Afrika' (Afrikaans for 'We for Thee, South Africa').

The walls in of the hall are covered with historic marble friezes, showing the life and struggles of the Voortrekkers. We climbed to the roof and had another beautiful view of Pretoria, this time from the other side of the city.

 

After doing our tourist duty it was back to domestic issues.

Bride!
Somehow every hostel in the city was fully booked tonight.  Finally we managed to get a place to camp just outside the city.  When we got there and were about to put up our tent the owner told us a large group had just cancelled and we could stay in a cabin, again for the same price as campingJ. 

We had gotten up early and were pretty tired and we just ate some sandwiches while watching a movie on Johan’s notebook.  At 20:45h we were ready to go to bed. Not even 9 o’clock and go to bed?  Come on, it was my holiday, we couldn’t go to bed this early, so we decided to go for one drink at the bar. At the bar it turned out we were crashing in on a birthday  and half of the people there were (former) Dutch. Needless to say we didn’t have that “just one drink”, I think I even ended up drinking Beerenburg. I learned this evening that Afrikaners love to speak Afrikaans/Dutch to you as soon as they find out where you’re from. The problem is, the two languages might have been very simular at one point, it’s not anymore. Afrikaans is really hard to understand for me, especially when drinking is involved. Another lesson I would learn this vacation: When you meet an Afrikaner in the evening, drinking is always involved ….



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Statue of General Louis Botha,Firs…
Statue of General Louis Botha,Fir…
Union buildings
Union buildings
Union buildings
Union buildings
Bride!
Bride!
View over Pretoria
View over Pretoria
cenotaph
cenotaph
Niet aanraken a.u.b.
Niet aanraken a.u.b.
Frieze
Frieze
Detail of frieze
Detail of frieze
Hole in the roof
Hole in the roof
Looking down from the roof
Looking down from the roof
Looking down from the roof
Looking down from the roof
Looking down from the roof
Looking down from the roof
View over Pretoria from other side
View over Pretoria from other side
Laager wall
Laager wall
Wagon in museum
Wagon in museum
Detail of laager wall
Detail of laager wall
1 of the 4 statues at the corner o…
1 of the 4 statues at the corner …
Voortrekkersmonument
Voortrekkersmonument
Our new cabin
Our new cabin
Dassie
Dassie
Pretoria
photo by: eefab