In the centre of modern, bustling Pretoria, Church Square provides a glimpse into the past.Church Square was originally a marketplace where farmers would gather to observe Holy Communion. 1n 1856 a thatched church was built on the property. After it burnt down in 1882, it was replaced by a neo-Gothic church knows as Franken’s Church. This church was demolished in 1904 and replaced by a cast-iron fountain donated by businessman Sammy Marks.
At present, the centre of the square is dominated by a bronze statue of former president Paul Kruger (sculpted by Anton van Wouw). The statue was commissioned by Sammy Marks in the late 1890s to express his gratitude for being allowed to build the town’s first synagogue.
The statue was originally erected in Prince’s Park in 1913. It was then moved and erected in front of the Pretoria Railway Station in 1925. Only in 1954 was it brought to Church Square. It was placed on a plinth, surrounded by the statues of 4 anonymous burgers. The plinth which supports the 5 statues replaced Sammy Mark’s fountain, which now stands in the National Zoological Gardens.
The statues stand in the middle of a beautifully designed garden, surrounded by a host of historic buildings, built between 1891 and the 1960s. These buildings are all still in use. For example, the Gauteng Provincial Division of the Supreme Court is housed in the Palace of Justice, the offices of the Tshwane Municipal Management Team can be found in the ou Raadsaal, a Tourism Office occupies the Netherlands Bank and the Café Riche building is home to a popular bistro by the same name.
Other buildings surrounding Church Square include:
- Capitol Theatre (completed 1931)
- General Post Office (1910)
- National Bank and Mint (1892)
- Tudor Chambers (1904)
- Centenary Building (1955)
Church Square, where Church Street and Paul Kruger Street meet, is a very popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. The beautiful gardens, which boast well-maintained flowerbeds, fountains and a bird bath (which attracts a large number of pigeons) always have someone admiring their beauty and tranquility.