The huge Voortrekker Monument in Tshwane is a unique cultural and historic attraction that draws some 200 000 visitors annually. Built to commemorate the Voortrekker pioneers and their journey — the Great Trek — it is located on a hill in the 240ha Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve, also known as the Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site, south of Pretoria.
The building was designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk to commemorate the bravery and persistence of the Afrikaner pioneers, who embarked north on the Great Trek between 1835 and 1854, from the British-controlled Cape Colony.
The 40m-tall granite monument houses the Hall of Heroes that retraces the journey of the Voortrekkers from the time they left the Cape Colony in their columns of ox-wagons, and in the monument on one of the world’s longest historical marble friezes, the tribulations of the Voortrekkers are depicted.
Cenotaph Hall houses a tapestry of more than three million stitches that pictures the story of woman and child Voortrekkers, and a collection of historical flags and objects of historical and cultural significance. There is also a massive painting by W.H. Coetzer portraying the struggle of the Voortrekkers through the Drakensberg mountains. A bronze sculpture of an Afrikaner woman and her two children is a tribute to the female Voortrekkers who made possible the eventual settlement of the Afrikaner community.
Each year Afrikaners flood the museum on December 16 to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Blood River, where the Afrikaners defeated the Zulus. At midday on this historically important day for the Afrikaans community, a ray of sunshine falls onto the Cenotaph in the centre of Cenotaph Hall, highlighting the inscription “Ons vir jou, Zuid Afrika” (We for you, South Africa).
The Voortrekker Monument Museum is housed in the basement of the monument. There is also the monument gift shop where you can purchase gifts, souvenirs and decorative items. The 20/20 gallery within the monument houses artworks can also be hired for private exhibitions. Spectacular views from the 40m high monument can be enjoyed from lookout points. Light meals are served at the monument restaurant from Mondays to Fridays and traditional buffet lunches are served on Sundays.
The monument also serves as an ideal venue for classical music and choral performances. With its fantastic acoustics, the Hall of Heroes can accommodate up to 600 people and is equipped with a digital Allen organ.
The lower level of the monument, known as Cenotaph Hall, can house up to 900 people and is well suited to art exhibitions. With its architecture and acoustics, the monument can also be used as a distinctive venue for wedding ceremonies.
Numerous indigenous plants fill the monument gardens, where you can follow pathways that represent the different trek routes of the Voortrekkers. There is also a replica Zulu hut and the Retief obelisk. The picnic site can be hired for functions, a braai (barbeque) area and a play area for children is open to day visitors, and there are safe walking and biking trails, as well as horse riding.
The Wall of Remembrance in the monument gardens was constructed in honour of fallen members of the SA Defence force from its inception until its transition to the SA National Defence force.
In the grounds, the Heritage Centre honours Afrikaners and their contributions to South Africa, with an exhibition on Afrikaners in the 20th century, a reading room and research centre, and a library affiliated to the Family History Library of Salt Lake City and the Afrikaanse Winkel.
Since 2000, Fort Schanskop has been the property of the Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve. It is one of four forts constructed during the Angle-Boer war period to protect Pretoria from invasion following the Jameson raid in 1896, and was the first to be completed in 1897 by the government of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. It was declared a national monument in 1938, and today holds several interesting exhibitions on the Anglo-Boer War.
Call +27 (0)12 321 6230/70/71 or visit www.voortrekkermon.org.za for more information.
Monday to Sunday
May 1 – Aug 31: 08h00 – 17h00
Sept 1 – April 30: 08h00 – 18h00
Adults: R40 per person
School groups: R20 per student
Children under 18: R20
Cars and motorbikes: R20
Mini buses: R22
Bicycles and hikers: R20 and Friends of VTM enter free on presentation of their membership card
Picnic area: R5 per person
Heritage levy: R5
Eeufees Road off the N14 just outside Pretoria. See the map below.