Symbolizing union

History and architecture as one

By Google Arts & Culture

South African Union BuildingsSouth African Tourism

With a privileged location at the highest point of Pretoria, this construction is the Seat of the government and represents –as stated in its name– the union of South African peoples.

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Union Buildings

Union Buildings

This building represents the first time that architecture was not a replica of British architecture but a reinterpretation of the Mediterranean style, an area with similar weather conditions to South Africa.

From an architectural point of view, the Union Buildings are Herbert Baker’s greatest contribution to world architecture.

The most sophisticated machinery of the day was used to manufacture the columns.

Did you know that the cornerstone was laid in November 1910 requiring more than 1,265 workers over 3 years to build? The structure was then completed in 1913.

Union Buildings (2012-04-18/2012-04-18) by Demerzel21

These neoclassical buildings were designed by Sir Herbert Baker, inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture.

Considered a masterpiece of South African architecture, the Union Buildings are located on the Meintjieskop which allows a terrific view of the city.

It was one of the first buildings in which the construction process was documented in images.

The Delville Wood Memorial, in the center of the construction, honors the African troops who fought in World War I.

Union Buildings (2021-05-26/2021-05-26) by Arnold Petersen

The Greek-style amphitheater can accommodate 9,000 people and reveals that Baker was inspired by the Acropolis.

Its existence was a controversial issue among architects who saw it as an extravagant, unnecessary, uncomfortable, and expensive element.

Despite this controversy, the amphitheater was built and has been a space where very important official ceremonies and events in the history of South Africa have taken place, such as Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech in 1994.

People walking around the Nelson Mandela statue at the Union BuildingsSouth African Tourism

In 2013, a statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the Union Buildings. The nine-meter-tall bronze statue weighs 3.5 tons and it is the largest statue of Nelson Mandela in the world.

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