pretoria union buildings seat of south african government

The Union Buildings in Pretoria are the administrative seat of the South African government. The imposing edifice was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, who designed many of South Africa’s most well-known buildings, and built with sandstone mostly quarried on the site. These pictures are from a photowalk organised by the Pretoria Stadstapper Fotoklap (Pretoria Photowalkers) group.

The Union of South Africa was born on 31st May, 1910,  with the amalgamation of the Cape and Natal colonies with the Republic of the Orange Free State and the Zuider Afrikaaner Republiek (ZAR). A new administrative capital for the new political entity was needed and these buildings were commissioned in 1908, with the cornerstone being laid in November 1910. The buildings were completed in 1913. You can learn more about the Union Buildings in this Wikipedia article.

I hadn’t been to the Buildings for some years. My previous visit was for the Nelson Mandela inauguration in ’94. (I remember well the cheers that went up from the assembled crowds upon the arrival of recently-murdered Libyan strong-man Muammar Gaddafi, and the tin-pot, psychopathic dictator, Robert “Mad Bob” Mugabe.)

statue of gen louis botha, union buildings, pretoria
Statue of Boer leader, Gen. Louis Botha
steps leading to the union buildings, pretoria
Steps leading up to the Union Buildings.

The grounds and gardens of the Union Buildings are a popular week-end gathering spot for people of all stripes. On the day we were there an Ethiopian wedding ceremony was in full swing, and, of course, proved to be a popular subject with the photowalkers, some of whom can be seen on the terrace just above the celebrants.

a wedding ceremony at the union buildings, pretoria
An Ethiopian wedding ceremony underway in the Union Buildings gardens.
union buildings, pretoria, south africa
Entrance to the main buildings.

In years past it was possible to walk up these steps and stroll around the exterior of the main buildings. However, increased security measures mean that this is as far as one can go these days. I didn’t have time on this walk to ascertain whether it’s still possible to get to the rear of the buildings, where a whole new vista opens up.

dome above the east portico, union buildings, pretoria
The dome above the eastern portico.
gardens at the union buildings pretoria
Union Buildings gardens.

After the walk around the Union Buildings we all went to Hotel 224 who had kindly allowed us to use their 14th floor conference centre for some sunset photography, but I’ll save those shots for my next post. Until then… 🙂

© 2011. All images copyright Grahame Hall and may not be used without permission . Please respect the rights of others


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