Quick Guide to Madiba's long walk to freedom: A moment in Pretoria

2018-07-14 12:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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backside of a giant nelson madela statue looking o

Check out this one-day itinerary of Nelson Mandela attractions in Pretoria. (Photo: iStock)

It's been a long walk to where South Africa is today, and while we still have a long way to go, 2018 marks a very special year where we celebrate the centenary of our nation's father - Tata Madiba.

Across the country citizens from all spheres of society are celebrating the life and legacy of our first democratically elected president on his 100th year. While he may no longer be around to guide us, he is still inspiring people around the world to do their bit to make the world a little bit better for everyone else.

SEE: Get your proudly SA #Madiba100 t-shirt and be part of these Mandela centenary celebrations in Mzansi

As part of the centenary celebration, South African Tourism (SAT) launched a special mobile App called Madiba's Journey that can be downloaded on Android or Apple devices, encouraging all South Africans to experience Madiba’s legacy at 100 destinations across the country.

The App was developed to help users locate and explore places that shaped Nelson Mandela’s journey and provides information on the Madiba attractions’ operating hours, tours, ticket prices and contact information. Click here for more information.

You can also read more about Mandela's legacy here.

Pretoria saw the start of Mandela's presidency, but it was also where his struggle against the oppression of Apartheid saw its most iconic moments - from the Treason and Rivonia Trials, to his incarceration where he almost saw his end with a death sentence - which could have led to a completely different South Africa we see today.

You can see all the major Mandela sites in one day in Pretoria, all within easy driving distance, making for a great way to spend your Mandela Day on 18 July.

ALSO SEE: #Madiba100: Be a part of these Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations across SA

Freedom  Park

Start your journey in Madiba's shoes at Freedom Park, where you can honour those who have fallen for freedom and human rights throughout the country's history. It has a list of names of those killed in South African wars, World War I and II and, most poignantly for Mandela, those who gave their lives in the struggle against Apartheid.

Besides being a storyteller, the park also has an interesting architectural style, a Garden of Remembrance and //hapo Museum that explores the story of creation from an African perspective. 

landscape shot of a monument wall in pretoria
(Photo: iStock)

Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facilities

A quick 8 minute-drive will get you to Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facilities, previously known as Pretoria Central Prison. Mandela was imprisoned here after his Treason Trial - for which he was found not guilty - but incarcerated under the State of Emergency Act in 1961. 

This was also the official site for capital punishment during Apartheid, and could have seen the end of Mandela if international pressure didn't force the government to revoke his initial death sentence from the Rivonia Trial.

While it's still a working prison, the gallows have been turned into the Correctional Services Museum where visitors can learn about its history - as grim as it is - although you will have to walk through the prison to get to it.

SEE: #SAHeritage: 11 Museums where you can reflect on the past this Freedom Day 

Street shot of an urban prison

(Photo: iStock)

Church Square

Another short drive and you'll be in the heart of the oldest gathering place in South Africa - Church Square. Surrounded by beautiful architecture like the Old Raadsaal and General Post Office, the most prominent landmark is the Palace of Justice. This is where the famous Rivonia Trial was held, sentencing Mandela to his long internment on Robben Island. 

Today the fist of Apartheid has been transformed into a tool for democratic justice, housing the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa. You can take a tour of Mandela's old holding cell or just take photos from the square of the majestic building.

palace of justice in chruch square in pretoria

(Photo: iStock)

The Old Synagogue

Four minutes from Church Square, you'll spot the Old Synagogue (on Google Maps called Pretoria Great Synagogue) which was converted into a court of law and where Mandela's first Treason Trial was held from 1958 to 1961. He was eventually found not guilty, but still ended up at Kgosi Mampuru II due to the Emergency Act.

Although you can't go inside, it offers a quick photo opportunity before heading to the biggest Mandela attraction in Pretoria.

SEE: The ghosts of Jozi: Our abandoned landmarks

derelict synagoge in pretoria city

(Photo: iStock)

Nelson Mandela Statue at the Union Buildings

Your final stop 7 minutes away is the colossal nine metres bronze statue of Madiba, unveiled in 2013. It stands in front of a national heritage site - the Union Buildings - once a paragon for Apartheid, it now houses the democratically elected presidents' office.

Besides starting his presidency here, it was also where he lay in state after he passed away. Unlike Mandela's other statues, this one has its hands outstretched, embracing the whole nation.

backside of a giant nelson madela statue looking o

(Photo: iStock)