Many international travelers recognize the Union Buildings as the site of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration, which was televised worldwide. Today, a statue of Mandela nearly 30 feet (nine meters) tall welcomes visitors to the building’s steps. Surrounding Mandela, you’ll see statues of other heads of state as you explore terraced gardens and lawns. The grounds also host memorials to World War I veterans, South African police, and the Women’s March of 1956. Go on your own, or stop by on a guided tour of Pretoria.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Due to lots of stairs, most of the area is inaccessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- There’s no fee to enter the site, but bring cash for the grounds’ flea market.
How to Get There
Built on a hill, this modern-day acropolis is less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the center of Pretoria, and is easily accessed by car or bus. If you’re driving, take Madiba Street to Government Avenue, and follow it to the Union Buildings.
When to Get There
The site of the Union Buildings is open daily. Visit at night to see the building illuminated in yellow, or in October to admire the blossoming jacaranda trees. In addition, keep an eye out for public events held on the grounds.
Must-See Historic Sights in Pretoria xa0The administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria has a wealth of sights for visitors curious about South Africa’s history. Head to the towering Voortrekker Monument to learn about the Great Trek of the Afrikaners from Cape Colony to central South Africa, or venture over to Freedom Park to honor the lives lost in the country’s many wars. Architecture fans shouldn’t miss the historic structures lining Church Square.
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