Johannesburg Sights

Johannesburg epitomizes South Africa's paradoxical makeup—it's rich, poor, innovative, and historic all rolled into one. And it seems at times as though no one actually comes from Johannesburg. The city is full of immigrants: Italians, Portuguese, Chinese, Hindus, Swazis, English, Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Zulus, Xhosas. The streets are full of merchants. Traders hawk skop (boiled

sheep's head, split open and eaten off newspaper) in front of polished glass buildings as taxis jockey for position in rush hour. Sangomas (traditional healers) lay out herbs and roots next to roadside barbers' tents, and you never seem to be far from women selling vetkoek (dollops of deep-fried dough) beneath billboards advertising investment banks or cell phones.

The Greater Johannesburg metropolitan area is massive—more than 1,600 square km (618 square miles)—incorporating the large municipalities of Randburg and Sandton to the north. Most of the sights are just north of the city center, which degenerated badly in the 1990s but is now being revamped.

To the south, in Ormonde, are the Apartheid Museum and Gold Reef City; the sprawling township of Soweto is just a little farther to the southwest. Johannesburg's northern suburbs are its most affluent. On the way to the shopping meccas of Rosebank and Sandton, you can find the superb Johannesburg Zoo and the South African Museum of Military History, in the leafy suburb of Saxonwold.

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Pretoria 15

City Center 9

Soweto and the South 8

Cradle of Humankind 6

The Magaliesberg 5

Parktown, Parkview, Saxonwold, and Westcliff 2

Greenside and Emmarentia 2

Roodepoort 2

Madikwe Game Reserve 1

Pilanesberg Game Reserve 1

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Amusement Park/ Water Park 1

Archaeological Site/ Ruins 2

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Dam 1

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Historic District/ Site 2

House/ Mansion/ Villa 2

Industrial Site/ Mill/ Factory 1

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Local Interest–Sight 1

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Mine 2

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Museum/ Gallery 16

Nature Preserve/ Wildlife Refuge 8

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Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 1

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Zoo/ Aquarium 5

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Johannesburg Sights

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Snake and Animal Park

  • Zoo/Aquarium

The Snake and Animal Park is not big (you can walk through in less than two hours) but it has lions, tigers, pumas, jaguars, hyenas,...

South African National Museum of Military History

  • Museum/Gallery

In a park adjacent to the Johannesburg Zoo, this museum has two exhibition halls and a rambling outdoor display focusing on South Africa's...

Standard Bank Gallery

  • Museum/Gallery

At the home of the Standard Bank African art collection you can admire contemporary South African artwork. The gallery hosts high-quality,...

Sterkfontein Caves

  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

It was in the Sterkfontein Caves, in 1936, that Dr. Robert Broom discovered the now famous Mrs. Ples, as she is popularly known—a skull...

Tswaing Crater Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

The huge Tswaing meteorite crater was formed about 220,000 years ago. Today the area is a nature reserve home to 240 bird species, zebra,...

Union Buildings

  • Garden/Arboretum

Built in 1901, this impressive cream-sandstone complex—home to the administrative branch of government—was designed by Sir Herbert...

Voortrekker Monument and Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

This famous landmark is regarded as a symbol of Afrikaner nationalism and independence. Completed in 1949, the monument honors the Voortrekkers...

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden

  • Garden/Arboretum

More than 220 birds species and a variety of small mammals add to a biodiverse garden named in honor of late ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu.

Walter Sisulu Square

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

In 1955 the Freedom Charter was adopted here by the Congress Alliance, a gathering of political and cultural groups trying to map a way...

Wonder Cave

  • Cave

Wonder Cave is a huge single-chamber cave with a number of intact stalagmites and stalactites and formations up to 50 feet high. An elevator...

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