The Union Buildings are located in Pretoria, South Africa’s Capital. They are home to the official seat of the South African Government as well as the other main department offices of the government, including the Department of Foreign Affairs. The official offices of the South African President are also located here.
Construction of the building began in 1910. The architect was Sir Herbert Baker and the style of its design is typically English, even the chimes of the clock are a direct copy of those of Big Ben. The twin towers of the building represent the Afrikaans and English languages and the inner courtyard symbolises the Union of the country. The building is surrounded by landscaped buildings which feature several monuments including a statue of South Africa’s first president, General Louis Botha.
The Union Buildings are officially recognised as a National Monument and stand on the highest point of the city. It is constructed of sandstone and measures 285 metres long.
The Church Square is the historical centre point of the South African capital Pretoria.
It was commissioned by the first president of the South African Republic, Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, in 1855 and used as a market place, for church events and as a sports field.
Its main feature and focal point, the bronze statue of State President Paul Kruger, was designed by Anton van Wouw and finished in 1900. The statue has adorned several other locations throughout Pretoria until it finally found a permanent home on Church Square in 1954. It is surrounded by the statues of 4 anonymous Boer soldiers.
Around the square several historical and architectural interesting buildings can be found. These include the Old Capital Theatre, the Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber), the turreted Palace of Justice, where Nelson Mandela stood trial, the Tudor Chambers and the Old Post Office.
Parades by the National Ceremonial Guard and a military band are held on the square on each Wednesday from 9.30 am to 10.30 am.
The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria was built to honour thousands of Boer pioneers ("Voortrekkers") who left the British Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854 to settle down land inwards and found a new and independent state. The 40 by 40 metre square shaped granite monument was designed by Gerard Leendert Pieter Moerdijk and inaugurated on December 16th,1949. Due to it's elevated position on a hilltop it can be seen from most points of the city.
Every year on the 16th of December, the anniversary of the historic battle at the Blood River in 1838 when 464 Boers defeated more than 10,000 Zulu warriors and the water of the Ncome River turned red, descendants of the Boers (or Afrikaner in Afrikaans) travel to the monument to commemorate the event. Due to the way the monument was constructed a ray of sun will fall onto the Shrine of Honour at noon on exactly this day.
In the Hall of Heroes visitors can see the largest marble frieze in the world.
From 1 May to 31 Aug: 08:00-17:00
From 1 Sep to 30 April: 08:00-18:00
Described as the "most luxurious train in the World" the Rovos Rail Pride of Africa does regular overnight journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town. Journeys to Durban, Swakopmund, Dar Es Salaam and the Victoria Falls are also undertaken. Air-conditioned suites with en-suite bathrooms are the norm and the train has a 42-seater dining car as well as "a non-smoking Observation Car at the rear of the train, while the coach next to it contains a small smoking lounge". For more details, itineraries and a photo album visit the website.
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