- Union Buildings
The Union Buildings form the official seat of the
South African governmentand also house the offices of the President of South Africa. The imposing buildings sit on Meintjies Kopand overlook Pretoria.
These buildings, built from light
sandstone, were designed by the architect Sir Herbert Bakerin the English monumental styleand are 285 m long. They have a semi-circular shape, with the two wings at the sides, this serve to represent the union of a formerly divided people dubious|date=June 2008. The east and west wings represent two languages, English and Afrikaans. These buildings are considered by many to be the architect's greatest achievement and a South African architectural masterpiece. The Nelson Mandela statue in Sandton City's Nelson Mandela Squarewas commissioned originally to stand on the spot where Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural address.
Andries Francois du Toit (1813-1883) was the original owner of the land on which the Union Buildings were built. He was also
Pretoria’s first magistrateand was responsible for the layout of the city. During this period he sold his land, called Arcadia, to Stephanus Jacobus Meintjies (1819-1887), after whom the hill is named.
cornerstonewas laid in November 1910, shortly after the Union of South Africa— for which the buildings are named — was formed. Taking 1,265 workers over three years to build, the structure was completed in 1913 at a total cost of £1,310,640 for the building and £350,000 for the site.
Gardens and Grounds
Notable are the terraced gardens, planted exclusively with indigenous plants, surrounding the buildings as well as the 9,000 seat
Within the grounds are various
monuments, statuesand memorials. Starting at the bottom of the gardens, a large statue of General Louis Botha (First prime ministerof the Union of South Africa) on horsebackdominates the lawn.
About half way up the terraces, the
Delville Wood War Memorialis a tribute to South Africantroops who died during the First World Waras well as a plaque in memory of those that died during the Korean War.
Two levels above that is a statue of
prime minister J.B.M. Hertzog.
The South African Police Memorial is located at the top right of the gardens.
South African National Film, Video and Sound Archivesis also located in the grounds of the Union Buildings, adjacent to the South African Police Memorial www.archives.gov.za
August 9 1956, 20 000 womenstaged a march on the Union Buildings to protest against the pass lawsof 1950. This historical event is commemorated by the public holiday National Women's Day.
May 10 1994the Inauguration of Nelson Mandelaand his Vice-Presidents after the country's first free elections took place at the Union Buildings. This date is considered as the "birth" of the new South Africa.
December 31 1999the South African flagship Millennium Celebrationwas held here. In attendance was the Deputy President Jacob Zuma, and other ministers.
* [http://www.info.gov.za/aboutgovt/contacts/presidency.htm Office of the President of South Africa]
* [http://www.malibongwe.org.za/ 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Women's March - with pics of the original event]
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