The Voortrekker Monument
Did you know?
The granite frieze in the Voortrekker Monument is the largest in the world.
The monolithic Voortrekker Monument is one of the first landmarks visitors see as they drive into Pretoria from the south.
It commemorates the epic exodus by disillusioned Boers from the Cape into the interior, which laid the foundation for the borders of present day South Africa.
In 1834 slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire. This was highly unpopular with the Boers and became the focal issue of greater disaffection.
In what has come to be known as the Great Trek, thousands of Boers began migrating from the Cape in late 1835. Beyond the border they fanned out, with most choosing to continue either into the central interior or north-east into present day KwaZulu-Natal.
There Zulu king Dingane took fright at the arrival of large numbers of settlers. He massacred one group under Piet Retief and ambushed another before being defeated at Blood River on 16 December 1838.
Shortly after, the British annexed what the Boers called Natalia, causing them to again trek into the interior to the areas that were to become the Boer republics of the Orange Free State and Transvaal.
Gerard Moerdijk designed the Voortrekker Monument, opened on 16 December 1949. Ringed by 64 granite ox-wagons outside, inside it features a historical frieze and cenotaph, which is lit every 16 December by a shaft of sunlight through an opening in the roof. The granite frieze, depicting the heroics of the trekkers on 27 bas-relief panels, is the largest in the world.
On the outside of this Pretoria monument are five massive statues of Boer leaders and another by Anton von Wouw of a Boer woman and her 2 children. On the grounds are an indigenous garden and an open-air amphitheatre. In 1992 the Voortrekker Monument Nature Reserve was declared around the site.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 326 6770
How to get here
The Voortrekker Monument is clearly visible from the M1 highway into Pretoria from the south. To get there take the Eufees Avenue off-ramp and follow the signposts.
Best time to visit
The Voortrekker Monument is open 365 days a year. But spring is a great time to visit Pretoria when the flowering jacaranda trees turn the city purple.
Around the area
Freedom Park is nearby. The historic Union Buildings and Church Square are a short drive away.
You can stroll about the site, but it's much more rewarding to go on a guided tour.
What will it cost
Adults R 40, pupils R20
Length of stay
Give yourself at least half a day for exploration of this interesting site.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes or boots.
Where to stay
Pretoria has a variety of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.
What to eat
There is a restaurant at the Voortrekker Monument with traditional Afrikaans cuisine on offer. If you visit on a Sunday do partake of their massive buffet featuring a variety of traditional South African dishes.
Check the listed Voortrekker Monument website for events happening there during your visit.
A guided tour of the site led by Mr Arend Posthuma.