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Church Square, Pretoria

Church Square (Afrikaans: Kerkplein), originally Market Square (Dutch: Marktplein), is the square at the historic centre of the city of Pretoria, South Africa. The founder of Pretoria, Marthinus Pretorius, determined that the square be used as a market place and church yard. It was subsequently named for the church buildings that stood at the centre of the square from 1856 to 1905. The square's most prominent feature, since June 1954, is however the statue of the late Boer leader and president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, at its centre. Statues of four anonymous Boer citizen-soldiers surround that of Kruger on a lower level of the plinth.

Several historically and architecturally significant buildings surround the square: the Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Tudor Chambers, the Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the General Post Office, which was designed by William Hawke.

In keeping with the historical value of the square, a rejuvenation project was announced in 2014 in the old Raadsaal. Roads around the square would be converted for exclusive use by the A Re Yeng ("Let's Go") bus service and its service vehicles, while pedestrian areas would be made more public-friendly. The defunct south wall’s fountain head would be restored and trees would be planted around the square. Numerous street benches would be provided and the square's tar walkways would be replaced with slate. The Kruger statues at the centre of the square would remain, and the square will be closed for hawkers.

Produce was conveyed to the Market Square by wagon, where their owners' oxen were also outspanned. The produce, if not sold direct from the wagon, would be placed on the ground amidst the trek oxen and the cattle and horses for sale. A first market shed was erected by the municipality after 1910 which led to a legal battle between the Pretoria Market and Estate Company and the town council. This was finally decided by Lord de Villiers at Bloemfontein, whose verdict gave the council control over 3/4 of the square, while the Market and Estate Company retained control of the Market Hall and buildings on the square's north-western corner for about another 40 years. The building of further sheds and the paving of the Market Square c.1917 were consequences of Lord de Villiers' verdict.


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