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What to see in Pretoria, Gauteng
Pretoria has not developed as fast as Johannesburg over the years, but two of the most impressive buildings are located in this beautiful Jacarandastad (a city filled with the most beautiful purple flowering trees called Jacaranda).
The first building is the Union Building, which was built in Meintjeskop, Arcadia, named after Stefan Jacob Meintjes. Arcadia was farmland originally owned by Andris Francois du Toit, who later sold it. Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of the Union Buildings and it was built of light sandstone. The building was completed in 1913, 3 years after the colonies were united to form the Union of South Africa.
The building is 275m long and has a semi-circular shape with two wings on either side, which separately represent the English and Afrikaans (Boer) populations of South Africa at the time. The gardens of the Union Building consist of roses brought 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 and the summer months in Cape Town.
The Voortrekker Monument is the second largest building and can be seen from almost anywhere in Pretoria. It was built in honor of the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony and went on the Great Trek in 1836. This monument is an icon for all Afrikaans South Africans. The architect of the monument was Gerard Murdijk, and construction began on July 13, 1937. The monument was inaugurated on December 16, 1949 and is 40 meters high with a base of 40 by 40 meters.
An amphitheater with a capacity of 20,000 was built in 1949 to the northwest of the monument. The central point of the monument is the cenotaph. At the top of the Hall of Heroes is a dome from where you can view the monument from the inside. The sun shines through this dome only one day a year at exactly 12 o’clock on December 16 on the middle of the cenotaph and the inscription “Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika” (we are for you, South Africa).
This sunbeam symbolizes God’s blessing on the Voortrekkers’ lives. December 16 is a day of remembrance, a promise made to God to always remember this day as Sunday every year because He was with them when they fought and defeated the Zulu at the Battle of Bloodriver. Many people died that day, and now we remember those who died.
People in South Africa have different views and it means something to everyone about the monument and the Battle of Blood River. No matter what you think these days, these two buildings are very impressive and must 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!
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