Great Pilgrimage Declared National Heritage site declaration in July 2011
The iconic granite structure renowned for it’s Art Deco design commemorates the Voortrekkers that left the Cape between 1835 and 1854. On 16th December 1938, descendants of the Boer leaders laid the cornerstone when the building commences. Later on 16 December 1949, the monument was officially opened. Every aspect of the monument symbolizes and honours the Voortrekkers who embarked on the treacherous journey.
The twenty-seven marble friezes depict the history of the Great Trek and incorporate aspects of everyday life, work, beliefs and culture of the Boers. The story culminates in the Battle of Blood River where a party of Voortrekkers under Andries Pretorius, overcame a Zulu army which greatly outnumbered them. The event is pivotal to the sense of Afrikaner nationalism and is recalled as a devotion to the vow made to God to honour the day should they be victorious. A copy of the Vow, the anthem “Die Stem” and of the land deal between Piet Retief and King Dingaan are buried under the foundation stone of the Monument.
There are many symbolic features of the monument including the cenotaph which honours the vow, the statue of a Voortrekker woman and two children honouring the strength and courage of the women, statues of Voortrekker leaders, and a depiction of the 64 ox-wagon laager used at the Battle of Blood River. Through all the symbolism the site serves as a reminder of Afrikaner Nationalism which is essential in South Africa’s political history and development of our current democracy.