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City Johannesburg

Johannesburg was founded when gold was discovered and a dusty mining town has grown into the commercial and industrial heart of South Africa.

One exciting tourist attraction is the Newtown Cultural Precinct, part of an ambitious urban reclamation project. Chinatown, Oriental Plaza and Diagonal Street, located on President Street, are warehouses and other buildings renovated and it is now present in a microcosm of the South African culture. The Workers' Museum has an extensive collection of photos. On Saturdays, the Johannesburg Market is held on the square.

Close by is the Market Theatre Precinct, once an Indian market, there is now an internationally known theater complex containing the French Cultural Institute, the Foundation for the Creative Arts and the Art Gallery Newtown. The Gramadoelas Restaurant offers authentic African cuisine, including crocodile and Mopani worms.

The African Cultural Centre is located in the Newtown district, while visitors in Diagonal Street may like to learn more about traditional medicine in the African herbal stores. Also worth a visit is the newly renovated Gandhi Square, which commemorates the life of the Indian leader who has worked as a lawyer in South Africa. Museum Africa has an impressive collection detailing the history of South Africa on a clever, creative map.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery in Joubert Park, houses a fine collection of South African and international art. Standard Bank Gallery is also worth a visit. In the outskirts of the city lies Gold Reef City, the re-creation of a gold mining town in the eighties of the nineteenth century, with authentic shops, bars, restaurants and other interesting things. You can also take an excursion into a gold mine.

There are guided tours offered to Soweto (South Western Township). The Freedom Square is visited where the Freedom Charter was declared in 1955, Regina Mundi, which used to be a Catholic church for political meetings during the time of apartheid and the Hector Peterson Memorial Square, named after the first death of the uprising in 1976 in Sharpeville.

Here you will also see the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, both Nobel Prize winners. Soweto is also known for its African taverns, called shebeens, and lively nightlife. Northeast of Johannesburg is Sandton, a posh neighbourhood with international top hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and theatres.

Take a Half Day Soweto Township Tour and discover the past and the future.

Johannesburg is a city with a big contrast between rich and poor. It is a city with vibrant suburbs and a violent history. A city built on gold comes from the deep underground gold veins. A city where you absolutely must have been! Explore Johannesburg and get to know the true South Africa. Visit Soweto district in the house of Nelson Mandela and see what he does for South Africa. Experience his fight against racial segregation in the Apartheid Museum. And experience how it is to wash gold in one of the most famous gold mines, 220 meters below the ground ...

Johannesburg is a city with many faces where you witness a lot of highs and lows of South African history. This colossal metropolis has expensive offices, upscale restaurants, shops, universities and glamorous nightlife, at least, when you are moving in the white business centre and in wealthier neighbourhoods. But in and around Johannesburg there are also the most impoverished slums of the country. High crime rates where you should not go as a tourist without guidance.

The city is literally built on gold. In 1886, the Australian George Harrison found the beloved shiny metal and caused the longest rush of all time. Prospectors from around the world flocked to Jo'Burg and as the city grew within three years it became the largest city in the country. The city was nicknamed 'Egoli', the city of gold. Yet the city has no golden history about the huge fight between black and white. Today, the city buzzes of the entrepreneurial spirit among the nearly five million inhabitants. Although the crime rate will not lie, the fight against crime seems to be paying off. The slums are beginning to organize themselves better and blacks have more opportunities.

The House of Mandela
The former home of Nelson Mandela is number 8115 Ngakane Street in Orlando West, Soweto. Orlando is one of the townships of Johannesburg. The anti-apartheid activist lived in this small three-bedroom house with his wife Winnie, until he was captured in 1962. After his release he could not return to the security of his old home. He had to leave Soweto. The small house has been converted into a museum: The Mandela Family Museum. You can admire a memorable photo collection. Photos and portraits of Mandela's family hang alongside honorary degrees he received from institutions around the world. Together they tell the story of the most famous man in South Africa. Nelson Mandela lived 27 years chained behind bars. Despite his time in prison, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He won the first democratic elections in South Africa. And today he is known as one of the most famous human rights defenders in the world.

Apartheid museum
In the parking lot of the Apartheid Museum there are seven stately columns with the words: Democracy, Equality, Reconciliation, Diversity, Responsibility, Respect and Freedom. The museum is perhaps the most interesting and poignant exposition of all of South Africa. Here you get a multimedia tour of the terrible history of apartheid. Upon arrival you will receive a ticket which you 'temporary' race stated: blanke or nie blanke. You are faced with similar 'separate' entrance gates. For each race you are following a different path through the museum and take a journey through time, from the beginning of apartheid until the fall of it in 1994, the year that Nelson Mandela triumphed.

The museum was built as a prison, including electric fences, bars and un-plastered walls. Painted on the walls are inspiring lyrics from Mandela. You get a realistic picture of the harsh existence as a black South African under apartheid. Separate paths, separate benches and separate toilets. Footage shows the violence and demonstrations against the black South Africa. A shiver runs down your back when you come into a room where 131 nooses hang from the ceiling. A memory of all executed political prisoners.

Visit the Apartheid Museum with a local guide.

Gold Reef City
Gold Reef City today is one of the best theme parks in South Africa. But around 1895 it was a workplace for thousands of hard-working miners. Deep underground in the Crown Mine, they were looking for gold. The search lasted 90 years and produced no less than 1.4 million kilograms of gold. Houses, a printing plant, a brewery, a theatre and a pub paint the picture of the gold rush. And Gold Reef City is the only place in South Africa where you can see how gold is poured. A small train takes you 220 meters underground in an old mine. There you can experience what it is to wash gold in a river stream. Wax figures bring the history of the miners back to life. The amusement park is not only a mine city rebuilt. There is also a casino and a Ferris wheel and there are several roller coasters, which are among the best in South Africa.

A nice way to affectionately know this city by its residents is "Jozi", and you will discover this by walking tour through the city, or a combination of walking and using public transport. Past Experiences offers this tour with very knowledgeable guides who have a great love for the city. There is a wide range of excursions; some of them have specific focus on areas such as art, architecture, Mandela or shopping.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist!

Gautrain in Johannesburg

On 2 August 2011, the public transport in Gauteng for the Gautrain opened a new link between Johannesburg and Pretoria. With this the prestigious infrastructure project almost finished. In 2010 it opened a connection between Johannesburg International Airport and Sandton district. With 160 kilometers per hour, the Gautrain is the fastest train on the African continent. With the newly opened connection there are of course especially very happy Gauteng commuters, but also for tourists to visit Johannesburg or Pretoria easily and cheap!

Click here: for more information.