Voortrekker Monument - History and Facts | History Hit

Voortrekker Monument

Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria commemorates South Africa’s Boer pioneers.

Peta Stamper

05 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Voortrekker Monument

The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa, commemorates the exodus of the Boers – Voortrekkers meaning ‘pioneers’ – from the Cape Colony from 1835 and 1854. This enormous granite structure on a hilltop was declared a National Heritage Site in 2011 and features as one of our top Tourist Attractions of South Africa.

Voortrekker Monument history

Sparked by the British abolition of slavery in all their colonies in 1834, the ‘Great Trek’ resulted in the creation of several republics and laid the foundations for the modern layout of South Africa. The Great Trek also resulted in conflicts between the Boers and the Zulus, particularly the Battle of Blood River, which the Voortrekker Monument also commemorates.

An idea for a monument was first raised in 1888, yet it would not be until 1931 when the Sentrale Volksmonumentekomitee (SVK) was formed and organised construction. The cornerstone for the monument was laid in 1938 by three descendants of the Voortrekker leaders.

Voortrekker Monument today

Reaching 40 metres high and sharing features with the French Dome des Invalides and the German Volkerschlachtdenkmal, the Voortrekker Monument is comprised of a vast granite structure surrounded by 64 ox-wagons – a symbol of Voortrekker practices – and is flanked by numerous statues of historic figures such as Boer leader Piet Retief.

Inside the Voortrekker Monument is its large Hall of Heroes housing a historical frieze depicting not only the history of the Trek but references to everyday life and culture of the Voortrekkers. The building also houses a small museum of Voortrekker history. Those who are keen to climb to the top of the monument are rewarded with fantastic views across the surrounding nature reserve.

Getting to the Voortrekker Monument

Just outside of Pretoria, you can easily find the Voortrekker Monument by car off the R101 (Pretoria Main Road) heading south. Alternately, get the Centurion, Valhalla or Voortrekkerhoogte buses to Monument Gate 2 on Trichardt Road.

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