Tag Archives: monument

Admiring the Tranquility of the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek (2017-08-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 18 APR 2018

We don’t really create large scale monuments any more (makes sense, they’re expensive and usually only relevant to a small slice of the population), but I do find that a pity because I rather enjoy the spectacle of a well designed monument space.

For me, the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek is a thing of absolute, tranquil beauty. The distinctive arches that frames the strong central character, the flanking pillars of the colonnade, and the reflective pool all combine to create a striking vision, with the large manicured lawns ensuring that the elegant monument stands central to the scene.

Inaugurated in 1948, the monument, designed by J.C. Jongens, honours the Huguenot’s who, fleeing religious persecution back in France, arrived in the country between the years 1683 and 1756 and primarily hunkered down in the valley of Franschhoek (literally “French Corner”).

It was here then that the French Huguenots settled, built farms, produced wines, and impressed their culture onto the area, leaving a huge mark on colonial South African life, and indeed, leaving a legacy which to this day survives in what is undoubtedly the premier wine producing region of South Africa.

The monument itself is dripping with symbolism: the three great arches represent the Holy Trinity, above from which the Sun of Righteousness shines, topped by the Cross of the Christian faith. The central female figure (created by Coert Steynberg) is meant to personify religious freedom, with a bible in her one hand and a broken chain in the other. Her cloak of oppression is being cast off as she stands upon the globe symbolising her religious freedom. The fleur-de-lis on her robe represents a noble spirit and character.

The still, reflecting water pond below expresses tranquility of mind and spiritual peace, important considering the strife and conflict the Huguenots had experienced back in France.

As for the globe itself, the central Southern tip of Africa includes a symbol of their religion (the Bible), a symbol of their art and culture (the harp), a symbol of their viticulture (the sheaf of corn and grape vine), and a symbol of industry (a spinning wheel).

In addition to the monument, on the grounds next door stands the Huguenot Museum, itself with a rather interesting story to tell. It used to be the elegant home of Baron Willem Ferdinand van Reede van Oudtshoorn, which had been erected around 1791 in Cape Town.

Despite all attempts to save it, the historic building was demolished in 1954, but not before an agreement was reached to use it as a French Huguenot museum. So each brick and stone was numbered, and transported from Cape Town to Franschhoek, where it was erected exactly how it had originally stood, complete with its original decorations intact.

As interesting as a stroll through the museum would have been, this particular visit to the monument had the kids along for the ride, which of course then meant that while open spaces with a boring building but interesting lizards was tolerable enough for them, a visit to a dusty old museum was definitely not on their acceptable things to do for the day!

Still, I got plenty of pictures from what was a quiet, peaceful experience:

As with most monuments, the Huguenot Monument is best experienced when there are few or no other people around – a certain level of quiet is needed to truly experience the surreal tranquility of this beautiful space in the Franschhoek valley.

Related Link: Huguenot Monument | Wikipedia | Franschhoek

Concrete Curves of the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2018

It is impossible not to take notice of the strange, alien-like fingers jutting out from the side of a mountain as you drive towards Paarl, those concrete curves belonging of course to non other than the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument, or to us English-speaking folks, the Afrikaans Language Monument.

While I have mentioned the monument in these pages before, I hadn’t actually ever stopped to visit it as an adult, something that I finally got around to rectifying on a sunny Saturday morning back in April last year.

Seeing as it is a rather long drive from Gordon’s Bay to Paarl, the girls and I decided to first stop halfway in order to pick up on some snacks for the road – opting to drop in for a bit at the always super popular Stellenbosch Slow Market (held at the Oude Libertas amphitheatre).

As expected, it was bustling, but snacks on hand were aplenty.

Truthfully though, we didn’t hang around the busy market for all that long – I’m not overly fond of having to navigate two little girls through such a throng of people at the best of times!

Anyway, navigating our way to the Afrikaans Language Monument on the outskirts of Paarl didn’t prove to be a particularly tricky or perilous task, and after paying the small entrance fee, we drove into the grounds, found a shady parking space, and headed up the stairs towards the mouth of this very unusual structure.

Opened on 10 October 1975, Jan van Wijk’s monument commemorates the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch, in the process also acknowledging the influence of a variety of languages such as Dutch, Malay, Malay-Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, English, and the indigenous Khoi and African languages, on the development of Afrikaans.

Symbolism is built into everything that stands before you, and knowing a little bit about the structure before you actually view it does come in quite handy in this particular case.

The monument itself is visually interesting, but of course doesn’t take particularly long to stroll through (perplexing the girls to no end), which is where the grounds and build location then neatly comes into play.

Apart from the interesting Visitor’s Centre (there is of course the actual Language Museum further down in town), and its restaurant with a view, the Volksmond, to enjoy, The Afrikaans Language Monument also features lovely patches of lawn to enjoy a picnic on, fantastic 360 degree views across the town of Paarl and its stunning surrounds, and a one or two perfect for ambling walkways that snake through its interesting garden.

The girls of course enjoyed clambering over everything and anything that blocked their path, but by far their favourite bit of our visit was of course the ice cream that they made me get them in order to beat the Paarl heat at the end of our walkabout.

Truthfully, I wasn’t really complaining. Ice cream was exactly what was needed for the day!

Also, plenty of photos were of course the order of the morning, much to the annoyance of my girls as per usual:

The Afrikaans Language Monument is an unexpectedly beautiful stop, well worth visiting even if you don’t speak the language at all.

(As for the rest of our afternoon out and about, that was spent visiting a goat tower, petting some alpacas, and eating scones and cream!)

Related Link: Afrikaans Language Monument | Paarl

Things to See in Croatia: The Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb Travel Attractions 03 NOV 2016

The Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb, capital and largest city of the Republic of Croatia, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world – and thus despite the fact that it is well… a cemetery full of graves and tombstones, it is one of Zagreb’s more interesting (and popular) tourist attractions!

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Established in 1876 at the base of Mt Medvednica, with the main building being designed by Austrian-born architect Hermann Bolle, the Cemetery with its arcades, cupolas and ornate artisan workmanship was finished in 1929.

What makes the Mirogoj Cemetery particularly interesting is that it inters members of all religious groups, meaning that you can stumble across Catholic, Muslim and irreligious graves all next to one another!

Because of this, many notable and famous Croatians have their final resting place here, including the likes of musicians, poets, artists, industrialists, politicians, sportsmen, and even the first president of the Republic of Croatia himself.

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There are also many memorials and monuments within the large, slightly fortified cemetery, a lot of which pay homage to Croatian losses suffered during times of war.

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The grounds of Mirogoj are lush with beautifully composed and established vegetation, which works in synergy with the beautiful works of art and sculpture, as well as the classic architecture, in order to create a visual spectacle of tranquil beauty and history.

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The cemetery also doubles as a public park and as an open art gallery, which obviously then further increase its attractiveness to visitors, both foreign and local alike.

In other words, if the thought of visiting a cemetery as a tourist isn’t too macabre for you, then the Mirogoj is definitely worth the trip if you find yourself in Zagreb.

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(Tickled your fancy? Perhaps then a cheap first class trip to Europe is what you are looking for!)

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Related Link: Mirogoj Cemetery | Wikipedia | Zagreb

Things to See in Ukraine: The Motherland Monument in Kiev Travel Attractions 01 NOV 2016

One of Kiev’s most striking skyline elements is the massive Motherland Monument, also known as Rodina-Mat. Standing at a colossal 62 metres high and visible from just about all over Kiev, there is no surprise in it often being described as one of the capital of Ukraine’s most distinctive features.

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Referred to as “Brezhnev’s Daughter” by the locals, the Motherland Monument is a giant stainless steel statue modelled by Vasyl Borodai and built in celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The sculpture is a part of the Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War II, and as a whole, its structure measures 102 m in height, with it weighing in at around 560 tons.

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The sword in the statue’s right hand is 16 m long weighing 9 tons (interesting fact – it had to be shortened so that it no longer stood higher than the cross of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, aka the Kiev Monastery of the Caves), with the left hand holding up a 13 by 8 m (43 by 26 ft) shield emblazoned with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union.

The Memorial hall of the Museum displays marble plaques with carved names of more than 11,600 soldiers and over 200 workers of the home-front, honored during the war with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Hero of Socialist Labor respectively.

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The slightly controversial (mostly around cost and choice of premium building material) statue was opened in 1981 (following a short two years of construction) in a ceremony attended by Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev. Interestingly enough, April 2015 saw the parliament of Ukraine outlawing all Soviet and Communist symbols, street names and monuments as a decommunization attempt, but luckily for Mother Motherland, World War II monuments are excluded from these laws.

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The sheer scale of this statue makes it an interesting  attraction to seek out, and of course, for military history buffs, the associated museum is an absolute treasure trove of information, gear and machinery.

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(Also, check out Destinations if you are looking for a good Travel Guide about Ukraine)

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Related Link: Motherland Monument | Wikipedia | Kiev

Things to See in Czech Republic: Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc Travel Attractions 21 AUG 2015

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument in the Czech Republic, built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) between 1714 and 1716. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way.

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It is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistic expression”.

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At nearly 115-feet tall, the Holy Trinity Column is topped by a gilded sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel, with the Assumption of the Virgin resting beneath. Three tiers descend on all sides from the pillar, decorated with cartouches, reliefs of the 12 apostles, and 18 stone sculptures of major saints intermingling with Moravian favorites. The base of the column also houses an entire chapel.

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Unfortunately the Holy Trinity Column’s visionary architect creator, Wenzel Render, died not long after work began. A builder named Franz Thoneck took up Render’s mantle, only to die himself while working on the column. Then came Johann Wenzel Rokický, who passed away before its completion, as did Augustin Scholtz.

After claiming the lives of four master craftsman, a fifth man named Johann Ignaz Rokický was finally able to complete the divinely-inspired monument to perseverance in the face of Death… though not before the man in charge of gilding the Virgin Mary perched atop the column would fall irrecoverably ill from his contributions to the project.

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Related Link: Wikipedia | Atlas Obscura

Things to See in South Africa: Afrikaans Language Monument (Taalmonument) Travel Attractions 04 MAY 2015

The Afrikaans Language Monument (better known locally as the Afrikaanse Taalmonument) is located on a hill overlooking Paarl, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Officially opened on 10 October 1975, it commemorates the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch. Also, it was erected on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (the Society of Real Afrikaners) in Paarl, the organization that helped strengthen Afrikaners’ identity and pride in their language.

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A visit to the Taal monument is a fascinating step back into the past. Built in 1975, and designed by architect Jan van Wijk, it acknowledges the influence of a variety of languages such as Dutch, Malay, Malay-Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, English, and the indigenous Khoi and African languages, on the development of Afrikaans.

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The monument consists of various tapering structures of a convex and concave nature, symbolising influences of different languages and cultures on Afrikaans itself, as well as political developments in South Africa, as follows:

– Clear West: the European heritage of the language
– Magical Africa: the African influences on the language
– Bridge: between Europe and Africa
– Afrikaans: the language itself
– Republic: declared in 1961
– Malay language and culture

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Guided tours are available on pre-bookings only. Volksmond Coffee Shop is an ideal venue for Sunday lunches and sundowners, as well as for family gatherings and year-end functions. They also sell picnic baskets to be enjoyed whilst revelling in the spectacular views of the Winelands.

The Monument with its exotic garden is an easy access point to a variety of hiking and biking trails on Paarl Mountain. Popular events include full moon picnics and stargazing evenings during the summer months.

Two amphitheaters are available for public and private events.

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Related Link: Wikipedia | Taalmuseum