Church Square in central Pretoria was the site of the city’s first church, built in 1855. During its early years, the square was used as a marketplace and sports field and today is the grandest civic square in the city and among the great attractions in Gauteng.
For visitors who adore 19th century and early 20th century architecture, Church Square is one of the must-see places to visit in Gauteng. The square is surrounded by historical buildings in varying neo-classical architectural styles, including the impressive Palace of Justice where former president Nelson Mandela and several of his comrades were tried and charged for treason during the infamous Rivonia Trial, the Old Capitol Theatre and the Ou Raadsaal (Old Government) building. Other notable buildings include the Old Nederlandsche Bank building, home to the offices to Tshwane Tourism and the General Post Office, which was erected in 1910. One of the best places to sit and survey the square is from the terrace of the art nouveau styled bistro Café Riche on the corner, the oldest café in Pretoria and an invariable point of interest on the Gauteng map.
At the centre of the square stands a large bronze statue of the 19th century Afrikaans leader Paul Kruger dressed in a top hat and carrying a walking cane. The statue was commissioned by the wealthy industrialist Sammy Marks and sculpted in 1896 by famed South African sculptor Anton van Wouw. First installed in the front of Princes Park and then later moved to the Pretoria Station, the statue was finally moved to its plinth on Church Square in 1954.
Every Wednesday between 9.30am and 10.30am a ceremonial parade is held on the square led by the National Ceremonial Guard who raise the national and municipal flags to the sound of the national anthem.