The office of South Africa’s president is inside this monumental neoclassical building, which features a beautiful garden that is open to the public.
Tour the landscaped grounds of the Union Buildings, which hold the offices of South Africa’s president. Some of the most significant events in South African history happened here. See them memorialized in sculptures around the Union Buildings’ garden.
Completed in 1913, the Union Buildings were built from sandstone in a stately neoclassical style. The buildings form one complex of two identical wings crowned in bell towers and one semicircular wing connecting them. When it was built, this was South Africa’s largest building.
Since South Africa’s president works here, visitors may not enter the Union Buildings. However, you may tour the terraced garden out front, which features memorials to past presidents, historical events and war victims. See the 30-foot (9-meter) statue of Nelson Mandela that rises above the garden. Mandela was inaugurated here in 1994 as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Look for the memorial to the Women’s March of 1956, which also stands in the garden. Held in protest of a law that required women to carry a pass at all times, the Women’s March is considered one of the great popular demonstrations of South African history. Approach the memorial to activate a recording of the participants’ rally cry.
Located on top of Meintjeskop, a hill just east of Pretoria’s center, the Union Buildings and gardens have panoramic views of the city. See the hills looming above the city to the west. Visit in October when Pretoria has a purple tint due to the numerous jacaranda trees in bloom.
Visit the Union Buildings after sundown to see the large building brightly illuminated with yellow light. The grounds are open late into the night.
On all days except Sunday, a flea market is open next to the parking lot of the Union Buildings. Buy a souvenir from one of the vendors, who generally sell handmade arts and crafts.
Located in the east of Pretoria, the Union Buildings are easily accessible by bus. Enter the grounds through one of the gates along Stanza Bopape Street to the south. Free parking is available at the Union Buildings. There is no fee to enter the Union Buildings' grounds, which are open daily.