Constitution Hill

Top choice museum in Johannesburg

Image by Veronica Garbutt Getty Images

Do not leave Jo'burg without visiting Constitution Hill. One of South Africa's most important historical sites, the deeply moving and inspirational exhibitions here are split across four locations: the Old Fort, which dates from 1892 and was once a notorious prison for white males; the horrific Number Four Jail, reserved for nonwhite males; the Women's Jail; and the Awaiting Trial Block – now mostly demolished and replaced by the Constitutional Court. Tours depart on the hour and provide essential context.

What you will hear and see will be shocking – the brutal facts of prisoners' incarceration here speak volumes. You will come away with an integral understanding of the legal and historical ramifications of the struggle. Many of the country’s high-profile political activists, including Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, were once held here. Most tours last one hour and cover the Number Four Jail and Constitutional Court; tours at 10am and 1pm last two hours and cover all sections of the hill. After the tour you are free to wander around.

If visiting with children ask directions to Play Africa, an interactive children's play facility in a previously unused section of the Old Fort. Also keep an eye out for regular concerts and cultural events hosted at Constitution Hill.

There's a good cafe, called the Hill, inside the Old Fort.


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