Pretoria was named after a Dutchman and this massive hilltop structure recounts the history behind the group of Dutch pioneers to which he belonged.
The 131-foot (40-meter) tall fortress of the Voortrekker Monument memorializes the group of Dutch settlers who founded Pretoria. Learn the history of their voyage inside the large, art deco monument.
In 1835, thousands of Dutch settlers left the British city of Cape Town on the south coast and headed north. This was the start of what came to be called the Great Trek. The voyagers were dubbed the Voortrekkers, or pioneers. They eventually settled on the land that became the Transvaal, declaring it independent of British rule. In 1855, Pretoria was founded and named after Andries Pretorius, one of the leaders of the Voortrekkers. See this history depicted in 27 panels that line the walls within the Voortrekker Monument.
Look for the extensive tapestry depicting further scenes from the Great Trek. It took nine women 8 years of work to complete this cloth, which has more than 3.3 million stitches. Find a sculpture of a Voortrekker woman and her two children within the monument. This sculpture was designed by Anton von Wouw, who also sculpted the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria's Church Square.
Climb down to the lower floor to see Cenotaph Hall, where an empty tomb commemorates the Voortrekkers who died during the Great Trek. Look for a canvas elsewhere in the museum to see an example of the tales that led to the demise of these unlucky settlers. This canvas depicts the treacherous passage of the settlers over the Drakensberg Mountains, which lie to the southeast of Pretoria.
Built in the mid-1900s, the Voortrekker Monument was designed in an art deco style. Climb to the top of the building to see views of Pretoria from above.
Explore the nature preserve around the Voortrekker Monument. Paths pass through the brush. Visit the Garden of Remembrance to the west of the monument for some peace and shade.
The Voortrekker Monument is located several miles south of Pretoria and can be accessed by car or taxi. Parking is available at the monument. The museum is open daily and there is a fee for admission.