National monuments and memorials
There are many national monuments and memorials commemorating those people and events that shaped the country. Some of these, such as Robben Island, are World Heritage Sites; others point to the quirkier side of our national character.
Among the many national memorials are the Huguenot Memorial Museum in Franschhoek, dedicated to the French religious refugees who settled at the Cape in the late 17th century; the magnificent Union Buildings in Pretoria; and the Samora Machel Monument at Komatipoort where the then-Mozambican president's plane crashed.
Then there is the Owl House at Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape. One of the best examples of Outsider Art in the world, it was created by the eccentric Helen Martins during the last 30 years of her life. In that time she completely transformed her typical Karoo cottage into a haunting world of glass and mirrors.
As poignant is the National Women's Monument in Bloemfontein. This honours the thousands of women and children who succumbed in the concentration camps during the South African War.
Provincial monuments and memorials celebrate everything from battles and the arrival of the British settlers in 1820 to hyena traps and temples. In Port Elizabeth there is the only monument in the world to Prester John, the mythical priest thought to be the key to vast African wealth and the inspiration for 15th century Portuguese exploration.
In Mossel Bay is the first post office in South Africa – a tree. In 1500 a Portuguese captain left a letter in an iron pot under a milkwood, which was found and delivered by a Dutch naval commander the following year. The tree is now a national monument known as the Post Office Tree.
So wherever you are in South Africa there is a monument or memorial that tells a part of our fascinating story.