South African Voortrekker Monument named national heritage site
The history and cultural heritage of South Africa is a complex issue and part of the reason why the Rainbow Nation such an intriguing and unique destination for an overland adventure.
Now, the South African government is taking steps to highlight the role that the country's various different ethnic groups have played in establishing the nation, starting with the official recognition of the Voortrekker Monument as a national heritage site.
The impressive 40-metre high landmark is located just south of the city of Pretoria and was built in the 1940s to commemorate Voortrekkers, a group of Dutch-descended Afrikaaners who left the then British-controlled Cape Colony in the 1830s and 1840s to start new lives in the interior of what is now South Africa, an event known as the Great Trek.
South African home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the monument is the first of several landmarks which are to be added to the list of national heritage sites in order to "celebrate our heroes and heroines who led the liberation struggle".
She stated that the inclusion of the Voortrekker monument will "further evoke a spirit of nation-building and reconciliation" in South Africa.
Sonja Lombard, managing director of the Voortrekker Monument, explained that the monument is the second-most visited site of its kind in the country, after Robben Island.
"We are extremely proud to be the first Afrikaans monument to received this grading since 1994," she commented. "It showcases the city and its surroundings, as well as our heritage."
The Voortrekker Monument was designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk and is known for its strong art deco influence.
Inside, visitors can view the domed Hall of Heroes, which houses the biggest marble frieze anywhere in the world.
The frieze consists of 27 bas-relief panels depicting the history of the Great Trek, as well as references to the everyday lives of the Voortrekkers .