The Union Buildings are surrounded by beautifully terraced gardens of indigenous plants as well as various monuments and a 9,000 seat amphitheatre. On our visit the roses were in full bloom, the weather nice and warm and people were just relaxing all over the gardens.
The lawn in front of the Union Buildings are often the location for public gatherings, whether they be protest or celebration, such as the presidential inauguration. In 1915 there was a march of Afrikaner women to the Union Buildings to ask for the revision of prison sentences for those who rebelled against the government’s decision to take part in the First World War. Forty years later, in 1956, some 20 000 women, protesting against apartheid laws, undertook a procession to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum to Minister J.G. Strijdom. Probably one of the biggest events, if not the biggest, to be held in front of the Union Buildings was the inauguration of South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela in 1994.
The gardens have several monuments scattered all over. These include the South African Police Memorial, the Delville Wood War Memorial, a plaque in memory of those that died during the Korean War and a statue to President J.B.M. Hertzog.
Standing at the bottom of the gardens is a large statue of General Louis Botha on horseback. Gen Botha was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. There was a plan to have a statue of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, erected somewhere on the grounds as well, but this was changed and the intended statue was put up in Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.