Home to General Jan Smuts for over 40 years, Doornkloof in Irene, southeast of Pretoria, is a unique museum that reveals much about the life and the spirit of this great statesman.
Soldier, scholar, statesman and philosopher, General Jan Christiaan Smuts was one of South Africa's most remarkable leaders, an enigmatic and multifaceted person who was never fully understood by his countrymen.
But despite his fame and many talents, Smuts was at heart a simple man who yearned for peace and simplicity.
It was at Doornkloof, a modest wood-and-iron farmhouse in the veld outside the village of Irene, that he found the tranquillity he craved; a place where, surrounded by his many children and grandchildren, he could indulge his passionate interest in botany.
Doornkloof, now called Smuts House Museum, has been preserved for future generations as a living memorial to the man known to everyone as 'Oubaas', housing many relics and mementos that offer fascinating insights into his extraordinary career.
This picturesque village of Irene, with its deep green meadows and hay-scented air, slumbers in its own little time capsule, a peaceful haven that seems oddly out of place on the industrialised highveld.
The road out of the village to Doornkloof winds through deep-shaded avenues of plane trees, poplars and old oaks; after about 2 km, you come to the gates of Doornkloof, where you will catch a glimpse of the old house through the trees.
The first thing that strikes you as you walk up the steps into the high-ceilinged rooms is the simplicity of the furnishings. The unpretentiousness of the interior aptly illustrates General Smuts's utter disregard for luxury: his tastes were simple, verging on the austere.
When you have finished touring the house, take a few minutes to stroll around the garden, a natural park where the thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs planted by Smuts are still to be seen. A patch of lawn is the only concession to his stipulation that the veld should 'come right up to the front door'.
There is also a very pleasant tea-garden, where tables are set in the shade of tall trees.
A footpath leads from the garden to Smuts Koppie, the rocky hill behind the house where the ashes of Oubaas and Ouma Smuts are scattered; a granite obelisk has been erected here.
Other Pretoria Museums, Monuments & Landmarks provide a glimpse of the rich history and culture of the city and South Africa.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Greater Tswane-Pretoria Area are found in the cities of:
* Pretoria with suburbs such as Arcadia, Brooklyn, Garsfontein, Hatfield, Lynnwood and Silver Lakes.
* Centurion with suburbs such as Centurion Central, Clubview, Eldoraigne and Irene.