As a tourist guide I have the privilege of visiting some of the most beautiful places in South Africa on a regular basis.
This is a privilege I am deeply grateful for, since I know that South Africa truly is one of the most awesome countries in the world. This is my opinion of course, but it has been verified by every single one of the hundreds of guests, whom I have accompanied through South Africa over the past 10 years. So this is why I had the idea of writing a weekly blog, choosing my 52 favourite places in South Africa. In this way I can share these with a wider audience. Some readers may be inspired to visit the places (physically or virtually), and everyone can enjoy the beautiful pictures and interesting info, which I will post.
So here we go: WEEK 1 Favourite place Number 1 – the Nelson Mandela statue in the picturesque gardens of the Union buildings in Pretoria.
Everyone who comes to visit me, is taken on a walk to this grand bronze statue, since it is literally up the road from my home in Pretoria. Most will agree that it is “larger than life” 9 meters – pretty much the same as Nelson Mandela himself, and therefore very appropriate. Since the unveiling of the statue on 16 December 2013, shortly after the death of Nelson Mandela, the number of visitors to the Union buildings park as increased significantly. Families, school children, tourists (local and foreign) all flock to see the most famous man in the world – with his arms outstretched to bless the city of Pretoria – the capital city of South Africa.
True to our African spirit, the number of entrepreneurs seeing a business opportunity has mushroomed. The ice cream vendors, curio sales men/women and of course the photographers – who take a picture of people in front of the statue for R20-00 and print it on site. The pictures are taken in such a way, that it looks as though one is holding Mandela’s outstretched hands. They have the position and poses waxed, and are causing a real buzz at the statue, with the eagerness to sell their pictures.
So if you live in Pretoria, or are visiting the city and have not been to the statue – go! It is breath taking, and the gardens are a wonderful place to go for a walk. The Union buildings are the official seat of our national government in Pretoria and are one of the most magnificent buildings in our country. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, completed in 1913, symbolising the peaceful Union formed in 1910, between the two major political forces at the time (the British and the Boers) It is inspired by Greek Mythology, Neo-classic architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as elements of the English Renaissance and Cape Dutch architecture.
The Union buildings and gardens are a national heritage site, well worth visiting. Entry into the buildings is not possible, as they are closed to the public – since that is where our presidents offices are! They can however be admired from the outside.