Located in northern South Africa in a nature reserve, the Voortrekker Monument is a major landmark of the country, marking a central site of modern tourism and a place of national significance, in commemoration of Pioneer history. It is a National Heritage Site, and the grounds surrounding the monument are a National Nature Reserve in themselves, containing wildlife and beautiful scenery. The monument is a large structure made from granite rock, located on a hilltop not far from the city of Pretoria, and stands as a symbol of national heritage and an example of impressive architecture, also containing unique and beautiful artwork.
As a whole structure, the Voortrekker Monument stands 40 metres high in a stylistic combination of European and African influences, with the two main features being the Cenotaph and Historical Frieze, both of which are in the Hall of Heroes, a large domed room. The Cenotaph, the main monument in the floor in the centre of the room, is engraved with the words “We for Thee, South Africa” and is enlightened by the sun that shines through the dome above it as a symbol of God’s blessing. The Historical Frieze is the largest marble frieze n the globe, telling the historic story of the Great Trek, the Boer emigration from the British Cape Colony in the 1830s, and depicting illustrative scenes taken from local tales and ancient religions. Other features include various statues, iron gates, bronze sculptures, the foundation stone, Belgian yellow glass windows, intricately carved archways, beautiful stone flooring, and a tapestry made up of over three million stitches, all of which visitors can discover during a guided tour.
Visitors travelling by car cannot miss the Voortrekker Monument when arriving into Pretoria from the south, as from the M1 Highway, it is clearly visible. Buses travel directly from the city of Pretoria to the monument or visitors can hire a mini bus, rent a car or take a taxi for a more comfortable journey, which takes less than 20 minutes.
Construction of the Voortrekker Monument began in 1937, with the joint intention to honour God and commemorate Voortrekkers, who initiated the Great Trek away from the Cape Colony in the 19th Century, leading people away from British rule. Inaugurated in 1949, the monument became an instant tourist attraction and landmark and had been left largely untouched, although a 20,000 seat amphitheatre was constructed nearby in 1949.