Union Buildings (Pretoria)
Overview of the Union Buildings
The Pretoria Union Buildings is the official seat of the South African Government, and also houses the office of the President of South Africa. The Union Buildings has large beautifully maintained terraced gardens, which is a popular spot for wedding- and other function photography. The gardens feature several monuments and statues.
Although the Union Buildings are not in the center of Pretoria, they do occupy the highest point of Pretoria, and constitute a South African National Monument.
The Union Buildings was designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker, and built from light sandstone in the English monumental style. The buildings are 285m long, built in a semi-circular shape, with two wings at the sides.
The architecture of the buildings represents several things:
- The two wings, represents the union of a formerly divided people
- The East and West wing, as well as the twin domed towers, represent two languages, English and Afrikaans
- The inner court symbolizes Union of South Africa
The Union Buildings are considered by many to be sir Herbert Bakers greatest achievement and a South African architectural masterpiece.
Review of the Union Buildings
Visiting the Union Buildings and gardens are a must see when visiting Pretoria. The expansive gardens are planted exclusively with indigenous plants, and a joy to visit.
On our visit to the Union Buildings, the day was hot and beautiful, and we managed to visit most of the monuments and statues in the garden, before the heat became too much. A wedding party was also busy in the gardens, taking photographs to capture the memories of their day.
Unfortunately we could not go into the Union Buildings itself, as a pre-booked tour are required. The security personel at the entrance could not tell us how to book, however. But, we managed to get a good view of the architecture of the buildings.
A definitely must see on any visitor's agenda, I would not recommend spending a whole day here, and do not come alone. There are several local vendors selling foodstuff and photographs, and they can become a bit annoying and persistent. Several local people where also hanging around in the gardens, which made me feel a bit uneasy.
But, all that set aside, do not miss the Union Buildings, and remember to bring your camera and a cool drink. The gardens make for some lovely pictures, and is a favourite photography location in Pretoria.