Our visit to the Taal Monument in Paarl

Walking in an art gallery with a difference...
The Taal Monument viewed from the start of the walk. The pillars symbolise the influences of Asia and Europe on the Afrikaans language.
The domes symbolises the African and Khoisan influences on the Afrikaans language.

Two days before the end of our three-week camping stint at Berg River resort, we visited the Taal Monument. What an impressive, colossal structure! Even if you do not know much about the Taal monument, you can glean key information from plaques placed strategically as you start your tour of the Monument. We learn that Jan van Wijk, the architect designed the Taal Monument. He was inspired by two Afrikaans writers, CL Langenhoven and N.P. van Wyk Louw, both who paid tribute to the Afrikaans language. Jan van Wijk , inspired too by the natural environment, infused such elements in the design. The monument is an artistic blend of pillars and a set of three domes linked by winding curved open spaces. The various pillars symbolize the influences of the European and Asian on the Afrikaans language, while the domes represent the Khoisan and African influences. I am not arty person, but I must confess Jan van Wijk surely created a magnificent masterpiece.
Large granite outcrops, some with wide fissures dot the landscape at the Taal monument.
Meeting the Rock Salamanders
As you stroll along the pathways, you will invariably spot a rock salamander or two scurrying across the orange sandy patches or the granite outcrops. When these creatures see you, they arch their backs and perform a rocking motion. Quite fascinated, I snap away while my willing models sit stockstill. I suspect they enjoyed the attention because they would cock their green scaly heads and jut out their thighs when the camera is pointed at them. On leaving the Taal Monument, We learn from the gentleman at the gate that they do these rocking movements when they want to launch an attack.  Thank goodness I only heard this then, else I would have given our dear lizard friends a wide berth!
A salamander after Take 2 - head cocked and hind leg perfectly positioned

When art and nature form a harmonious circle
The Taal monument and the natural environment form a harmonious ecosystem it seems. Here nature and man-made artifacts seem to co-exist. At the lookout point, when you look in a north-westerly direction, you see a continuous line of majestic mountains hugging the valley. When you allow your gaze to travel from the Groot Drakenstein and Simonsberg Mountains to Klapmutskop, a surprise awaits you. There in the distance is Table Mountain, one of the new Seven Natural wonders of the world. To the south-east you can see many granite domes dotting the landscape. The diverse indigenous flora add to the beautiful natural setting as well. The Taal Monument Garden or reserve has landscaped areas with Pig’s ear, vygies, honey suckle trees, aloe and protea shrubs, for example. There is also a picnic area and comfortable benches placed at various points. The ablution blocks, unobtrusive and blending in with the general design and feel of the place, are
neat and comfy.

A lovely view with Klapmutskop clearly visible. When you enlarge the picture, you may see  Table mountain in the  north-eastern corner of this picture.

Above: King Protea

Pig's ear
A worthwhile experience for all looking for a cultural fun outing with a difference.
After sauntering through the Taal Monument Garden for an hour and a bit, we head back to our campsite for lunch. That was a value-adding experience on many levels for me. Besides paying tribute to the Afrikaans language, the fusion of art, history and nature to convey multiple messages was what struck me most. Perhaps we will return to attend a concert held in the amphitheatre. That would be fun because then we can picnic under the stars on the lawns and have a double treat for the whole family. If you have not  visited the Taal Monument, this could easily be your next family outing.

Basil sitting in a shady nook at the Taal Monument

Two of the smaller pillars viewed from the south eastern side


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