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"Voortrekker Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination Voortrekker Monument Tip by Bwana_Brown

Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria: 24 reviews and 39 photos

  Approaching the Monument
by Bwana_Brown

The Voortrekker Monument is a granite structure, 40-m high and with a 40 x 40 m base. It stands on a hill overlooking Pretoria, as a monument to the Boer settlers who trekked inland between 1835-1852 to escape the increasing domination of their original coastal settlements by the English. The Dutch ancesters of the Boers first landed near Cape Town following a shipwreck in 1647, not that long after the Pilgrim fathers landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. It was a major move for them to pull up stakes after 200 years and head inland to carve out a new home, despite many more bloody battles with the Zulu people of these lands.

As a result of this history, the Voortrekker Monument is to the white Afrikaaner decendents of the Boers as the Lincoln Memorial is to Americans. A law in Pretoria still limits the height of any building between the Monument and the Union Buildings such that the view between them remains unobstructed. Construction of the Monument began in 1937 and was completed in 1949.

Surrounding the monument is a circular stone fence with carved scenes of wagons and people going about their activities on a typical 'trek'. The circle represents the 'laager' in which the wagons form a defensive circle against attack.

We climbed to the top of the structure for a great view out over Pretoria. You can also look down from the dome into the inner portion of the Monument. It is here, through a hole in the top of the structure that a ray of sunshine will strike the cenotaph below at exactly noon on Dec. 16th. This is to commemorate the final epic victory of the Boers over the Zulu at Blood River on this date in 1838.

The incoming ANC government in the mid-1990s had a very tough decision to make regarding what to do with this symbol of tribal defeat at the hands of the Boers. A number of not very pleasant options were considered but, in the end, they (wisely I think) decided to let the viewers of the Monument decide for themselves what they thought of this period in the history of African colonization!

Directions: On the hills overlooking Pretoria

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 5, 2004
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