The site of Freedom Park was carefully chosen, a 52 hectare undeveloped hill overlooking the city of Pretoria. It was here that the nation’s heroes would be honoured and the complex story of South Africa and its people would be told.
Freedom Park was established as the South African government's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It took into account the public's need for a memorial to fittingly honour those who sacrificed their lives to win freedom. It also celebrates and explores the country's diverse peoples, and our common humanity, through compelling stories, performances, exhibits and architecture.
The project was officially launched on 1 June 2000, and the Freedom Park Trust was established in 2001 to develop the heritage project.
Construction of the first phase began in July 2003, and was completed in March 2004. During 2003, cleansing and symbolic reparation ceremonies, to acknowledge the major conflicts in South Africa's history, were conducted nationwide. Soil from the sites of each of the ceremonies, as well as trees representing each province, were collected for the Garden of Remembrance, a green belt surrounding the Freedom Park complex.
The Garden of Remembrance was officially handed over on 8 March 2004 by Thabo Mbeki, the president at the time, who said Freedom Park would not be a place of mourning, but a place of celebration and a tribute to humanity.
The first phase of Freedom Park was completed in time for the 10th anniversary of democracy in South Africa on 27 April 2004 (Freedom Day) and it continues to be a choice location for key national events and celebrations. In April 2009, the Freedom Park Trust was dissolved and the Freedom Park Cultural Institution came into being.