12 July 2013

The Union Buildings

The Union Buildings, South Africa's White House.. The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African government and also house the offices of the president of South Africa. These buildings, built from light sandstone, were designed by the architect Sir Herbert Baker in the English monumental style and are 285 m long. They have a semi-circular shape with the two wings at the sides. The clock chimes are identical to those of Big Ben in London. The Nelson Mandela statue in Sandton City's Nelson Mandela Square was commissioned originally to stand on the spot where Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural address at the Union Buildings in 1994.

In 1909 Herbert Baker was commissioned to design the Government Building of the Union of South Africa (which was formed on 31 May 1910) in Pretoria. Pretoria was to become the administrative centre for the new government. In November 1910 the cornerstone of the Union Building was laid.

Lord Selborne and H.C. Hull, a member of the first Union Cabinet, chose Meintjieskop as the site for Baker's design. The site was that of a disused quarry and the existing excavations were used to create the amphitheatre, which was set about with ornamental pools, fountains, sculptures, balustrades and trees. Taking 1,265 workers over three years to build, the structure was completed in 1913 at a total cost of £1,310,640 for the building and £350,000 for the site.

View up to the Union Buildings with the memorial of Delville Wood in the foreground

Beautiful terraces in front of the Union Buildings

WW1 memorial at the top of the steps.

Artist under the tree sketching the WW1 memorial.

The Amphitheater looking over the Police Memorial

Police Memorial

Statue of General Louis Botha, first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, in front of the Union Buildings


  1. Thanks for the lovely shots, Robbie. I remember collecting butterflies in these gardens in my shcooldays, carrying my three-speed bicycle up and down those steps more times than I could count, and having weekend strolls all about - no security fencing then. What a lovely building.

    1. Well so much security fencing and police now! Difficult to shoot open shots now.