Visitors entering the Monument through the great teak front doors are greeted by an incredible sight: a massive high domed hall, 25x25x41 metres, with marble floors and an impressive marble frieze (92 metres long and 2,3 metres high), depicting historical scenes from the Great Trek. Four huge arched windows made from yellow Belgian glass flank the hall and give the impression that the area is a revered place, like a temple…
All the marble in the Hall of Heroes, except that of the Frieze, comes from the quarries at Marble Hall in the Northern Province. When one looks down at the interior of the hall from the top dome, it is clear that the marble has been laid to form a specific pattern on the floor. It forms a pattern of water rippling out in ever widening circles with the Cenotaph at its centre – symbolical of a Trek to freedom that started on a small scale, but eventually became a mighty migratory flood in history, the effects of which can still be felt today.
The Historical Frieze consists of 27 marble panels made from Quercetta Italian marble. The sculptures form a unique unit despite the fact that four different artists worked on them – a noteworthy achievement. The joys and sorrows of the Trek is depicted from 1835 to 1852, not only the political history and its significance, but also the socio-cultural aspects.
Tales of heroism and perseverance, illness and death, defeat and conquest, friendship and treason are depicted. Not only does the Frieze depict the birth of the Afrikaner nation, but also the contact and relations with the Black Nations of the interior during the 19th century – for these nations also a time of internal power struggles and a fight for survival.
The work on the Frieze started in 1942 and the sculptors, Hennie Potgieter, Peter Kirchhoff, Frikkie Kruger and Laurika Postma literally spent years of their lives completing it. The total cost for the construction of the Frieze was £60,000.