Things to Do in Pretoria
The granite Voortrekker Monument towers 200 feet (60 meters) above Pretoria. The monument was built to honor the Great Trek—a 19th-century exodus from the then British-ruled Cape Colony to central South Africa. The monument depicts the treacherous journey in the Hall of Heroes, and an empty tomb represents the lives lost on the trek.
The neoclassical Union Buildings house Pretoria’s government headquarters and presidential offices. Designed in 1908, the sandstone wings represent South Africa’s Afrikaners and English people—joined by a central courtyard. While the building isn’t open to the public, you can always enjoy the surrounding gardens and statues.
For visitors from outside of South Africa, Stephanus Johannes Paulus “Paul” Kruger’s name may ring a bell – the country’s most popular National Park is named for him. South Africans and world history buffs also know Mr. Kruger as the popular one-time President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), an independent state that persisted for 50 years in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries, battling the British during the Anglo Boer Wars. It was Kruger who signed the Pretoria Convention treaty that ended the First Anglo Boer War in 1881. Three years later, he built his private home in downtown Pretoria – today the site is open to the public as a museum tribute to the politician. The reflective museum lies just a few blocks south of the National Zoological Gardens and west of Church Square in busy downtown Pretoria.
Three buildings – including the single-story white cement Paul Kruger House – and Kruger’s old private railway car, used on the campaign trail and for official visits, comprise the Kruger
Museum. The home, guarded by stone lions, has been refurbished to look as it did during Kruger’s occupancy and features carpeting, wall décor and furniture from the period. The other two buildings house exhibits on the various periods of his life, including the knife that he used to amputate his own thumb after a shooting accident went awry.