Union Buildings


Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, these sweeping sandstone buildings are the headquarters of government and home to the presidential offices. They're not open to the public, but are worth visiting to view from the front gardens, where you'll find statues of a few former heads of state, including a giant one of an open-armed, grinning Mandela – it's a top selfie spot.

The gardens are often used for public celebrations, and Nelson Mandela’s inauguration took place here in 1994. There’s also a WWI memorial here, and a memorial to the South African police.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pretoria attractions

1. Pretoria Art Museum

0.53 MILES

Specialising in South African art from most of the country’s history, this good gallery contains works by all the big local hitters, from Jacob Hendrik…

2. 012central

0.98 MILES

The rebirth of downtown Pretoria has been given a kickstart by the redevelopment of this set of buildings into an events, arts and social hub. Check out…

3. Pretoria National Zoological Gardens

1.44 MILES

There’s a reptile park and an aquarium here, as well as a vast collection of exotic trees and plenty of picnic spots. The highlight, though, is the cable…

4. Church Square

1.53 MILES

A statue of Old Lion (Paul Kruger) takes pride of place in the centre of Church Square, which is surrounded by some impressive public buildings. The…

5. Palace of Justice

1.54 MILES

HQ of the Gauteng division of South Africa's High Court, this 1897 building is where the Rivonia Trial, that sentenced Nelson Mandela to life imprisonment…

6. Ou Raadsaal

1.56 MILES

The old Parliament Building of the Transvaal Republic Government, dating from 1890, sits on the south side of the square.

7. Melrose House

1.57 MILES

On 31 May 1902, the Treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), was signed in the dining room of this stately mansion. Highlights…

8. Old Capitol Theatre


This decommissioned theatre, originally opened in 1931, is all but obscured by a hideous concrete parking garage.