Church square is in the historic centre of Pretoria! The founder of Pretoria, Marthinus Pretorius declared the square to be used as a church yard and market place! The square was surrounded with various church buildings that stood from 1856 to 1905.
Several historical and architectual significant buildings surround the square: The Palace Of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Tudor Chambers, the Ou Raadsaal (the Old Chambers) and the General Post Office, designed by William Hawke.
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 were consequences of Lord de Villiers' verdict in 1917.
Lines for horse-drawn trams initially connected the railway station with Market, Church, du Toit and Esselen streets to the terminus at the east end of de Kock Street. This company ceased operations at the outbreak of war in 1899, and it was not until 1904 that the municipality purchased their concession and restarted it. Only in November 1910 were electric trams put into operation.
The square became known as Church Square due to a succession of three churches that stood at the center of the square. The first church on Church Square was built in 1856 by Skinner and Devereux, and inaugurated in 1857. This was replaced by a larger building, which burnt down in 1882. This simple Cape Dutch style building was replaced by an early Gothic style building, built by Claridge, together with Leslie Simmonds. This third church building, known as the Verenigde Kerk, was demolished in 1904/1905, shortly after president Paul Kruger's state funeral was conducted from it.
According to a Minute of His Worship by the Mayor Andrew Johnson, for the Mayoral Year ending 25th October 1905, Municipality of Pretoria, a fountain was proposed for the square by Mr. Samuel Marks. This piece in turn was moved to the Pretoria Zoo, making way for the current collection of sculptures.
The turreted, Palace of Justice was the scene of arguably the most famous political trial in South Africa's history, the Rivonia Trial. During this trial, Nelson Mandela and a number of other ANC members were charged with treason, found guilty and subsequently incarcerated.
On Parliament Street in Pretoria, was an Italian Renaissance design theatre. It as opened by the Prime Minister of South Africa at the time of 8 of September 1931, J.B.M. Hertzog. What remains of this historical building was converted into a parking garage several years ago, though much of the original building still stands!
-25° 44' 24", 28° 10' 48"