The Voortrekker Monument is situated in the northern part of South Africa in the Pretoria (Tshwane) region in a nature reserve. It is a unique Monument which commemorates the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner and is situated in a beautiful setting. Today it is the most visited heritage site of its kind in Gauteng and one of the top ten cultural historical visitor attractions in the country.
Physically, the Voortrekker Monument is 40 metres high, with a base of 40 metres by 40 metres. The building shares architectural resemblance with European monuments such the Dôme des Invalides in France and the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Germany but also contain African influences. The two main points of interest inside the building are the Historical Frieze and the Cenotaph.
The idea to build a monument in honour of the Voortrekkers was first discussed on 16 December 1888, when President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic attended the Day of the Covenant celebrations at Blood River in Natal. However, the movement to actually build such a monument only started in 1931 when the Sentrale Volksmonumentekomitee (SVK) (Central People's Monuments Committee) was formed to bring this idea to fruition.
Construction started on 13 July 1937 with a sod turning ceremony performed by chairman of the SVK, Advocate Ernest George Jansen, on what later became known as Monument Hill. On 16 December 1938 the cornerstone was laid by three descendants of some of the Voortrekker leaders: Mrs. J.C. Muller (granddaughter of Andries Pretorius), Mrs. K.F. Ackerman (great-granddaughter of Hendrik Potgieter) and Mrs. J.C. Preller (great-granddaughter of Piet Retief).
The Monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949 by the then-prime minister D. F. Malan. The total construction cost of the Monument was about £ 360,000, most of which was contributed by the South African government.
A large amphitheatre, which seats approximately 20,000 people, was erected to the north-east of the Monument in 1949.
The main entrance of the building leads into the domed Hall of Heroes. This massive space, flanked by four huge arched windows made from yellow Belgian glass, contains the unique marble Historical Frieze which is an intrinsic part of the design of the monument. It is the biggest marble frieze in the world