The Cenotaph is the central focus point of the Monument. The word cenotaph means “empty tomb”. It is therefore the symbolic resting place of Piet Retief and all the other Voortrekkers who died during the Great Trek. The Cenotaph is made of red granite from the Parys region in the Free State.
Once a year, on 16 December, the sun shines through an opening in the dome roof of the Monument onto the middle of the Cenotaph.
It shines on the words “Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika”, literally translated: “We for thee South Africa.” The architect, Gerard Moerdijk, planned this specifically because the ray of sunlight symbolizes God’s blessing on the life and work of the Voortrekkers. The Cenotaph Hall consists of a 34,5 x 34,5 metre area and is decorated with the flags from the different Voortrekker Republics. The hall is visited more often these days as the famous wall tapestries depicting the Voortrekkers can be seen there, as well as several display cases with artefacts from the Great Trek.
Against the Northern wall is a nave with a lantern where a flame has been kept burning since 1938. The Symbolic Ox Wagon Trek took place in 1938. It started in Cape Town and ended at Monument Hill where the foundation stone was laid for the erection of the Monument.
The Cenotaph Hall is generally accepted as the most sensitive area of the Monument. For this reason, activities are limited to religious and culture related events.