Theme Week South Africa – Johannesburg

Saturday, 24 June 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  13 minutes

Nelson Mandela Square © NJR ZA/cc-by-sa-3.0

Nelson Mandela Square © NJR ZA/cc-by-sa-3.0

Johannesburg, also known as Jozi, Joburg and eGoli, is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade. The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The city is commonly interpreted as the modern day El Dorado due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand. The name is attributed to one or all of three men involved in the establishment of the city. In ten years, the population was 100,000 inhabitants.

The city is often described as Africa’s economic powerhouse, and contentiously as a modern and prosperous African city. Johannesburg, like many metropolises, has more than one CBD, including, but not limited to, Sandton, Rosebank and Roodepoort in addition to the original CBD. Some tend to include Benoni and Germiston as well. Due to its many different central districts Johannesburg would fall under the multiple nuclei model in human geography terms. It is the hub of South Africa’s commercial, financial, industrial, and mining undertakings. Johannesburg is part of a larger urban region. It is closely linked with several other satellite towns. Randburg and Sandton form part of the northern area. The east and west ridges spread out from central Johannesburg. The Central Business District covers an area of 6 square kilometres (2 sq mi). Johannesburg’s city centre retains its elements of a rectangular grid pattern that were first officially recorded in 1886. Streets are narrow and filled with high rises built in the mid to late 1900s. Old Victorian era buildings first incepted in the late 1800s having been torn down long ago. The 1900s brought along with it the introduction of many different architectural styles and structures. The Johannesburg Art Gallery and Supreme Court Building being two examples. These were important Beaux Arts structures, with the style put in place by (at the time) colonial parent, the British Empire. South Africa didn’t borrow architectural techniques exclusively from Britain, however. They were also inspired by American models and styles, having built several structures like the ESKOM Building and the Corner House to emulate the prowess of New York City, located in the United States.

Johannesburg is home to some of Africa’s tallest structures (Architecture of Johannesburg), such as the Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower, the Carlton Centre, Marble Towers, Trust Bank Building, Southern Life Centre, 11 Diagonal Street and Ponte City Apartments. The Johannesburg city skyline has most of the tallest buildings on the continent and contains most international organisations such as IBM, Absa, BHP Billiton, Willis Group, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Many of the city’s older buildings have been demolished and more modern ones built in their place. North of the CBD is Hillbrow, the most densely populated residential area in southern Africa. Northwest of the CBD is Braamfontein, a secondary CBD housing many offices and business premises. The CBD is predominated by four styles of architecture, being Victorian Colonial, Edwardian Baroque, Art Deco and Modernism. Parks and gardens in Johannesburg are maintained by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo. City Parks is also responsible for planting the city’s many green trees, making Johannesburg one of the ‘greenest’ cities in the world. It has been estimated that there are six million trees in the city with the number growing every year – 1.2 million on pavements and sidewalks, and a further 4.8 million in private gardens. City Parks continues to invest in planting trees, particularly those previously disadvantaged areas of Johannesburg which were not positive beneficiaries of apartheid Johannesburg’s urban planning. Johannesburg Botanical Garden, located in the suburb of Emmarentia, is a popular recreational park.

Nelson Mandela Square © NJR ZA/cc-by-sa-3.0 Sandton at night © NJR ZA/cc-by-sa-3.0 Hillbrow Tower © Kemptonreporter/cc-by-2.5 Johannesburg Central Business District from Carlton Centre © Lars Haefner/cc-by-sa-3.0 Johannesburg Central Business District across M1 highway © Dylan Harbour/cc-by-sa-3.0 A Johannesburg Summers Day © Ryanj93/cc-by-sa-4.0 The Witwatersrand University East Campus © Samuella99
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Johannesburg Central Business District from Carlton Centre © Lars Haefner/cc-by-sa-3.0
Johannesburg’s suburbs are the product of urban sprawl and are regionalised into north, south, east and west, and they generally have different personalities. While the Central Business District and the immediate surrounding areas were formerly desirable living areas, the spatial accommodation of the suburbs has tended to see a flight from the city and immediate surrounds. The inner city buildings have been let out to the lower income groups and illegal immigrants and as a result abandoned buildings and crime have become a feature of inner city life. The immediate city suburbs include Yeoville, a hot spot for black nightlife despite its otherwise poor reputation. The suburbs to the south of the city are mainly blue collar neighbourhoods and situated closer to some townships. Greater Johannesburg consists of more than five hundred suburbs in an area covering more than two hundred square miles (520 square kilometres). Although black Africans can be found throughout Johannesburg and its surrounding area, greater Johannesburg remains highly racially segregated. The suburbs to the west have in recent years floundered with the decline of the mining industry but have in some cases experienced some revival with properties being bought up by the local African middle class. The biggest sprawl lies to the east and north. The eastern suburbs are relatively prosperous and close to various industrial zones. The northern suburbs have been the recipient of most of the flight from the inner city with the city starting to sprawl northwards and multiple secondary CBDs forming in the north towards Pretoria, an interesting fact is that the area/suburb of Centurion is much closer to the CBD of Pretoria and yet it was recently demarcated as part of the City Of Johannsesburg municipality. Traditionally the northern and north-western suburbs have been the centre for the wealthy, containing the high-end retail shops as well as several upper-class residential areas such as Hyde Park, Sandhurst, Northcliff, Hurlingham, Bryanston and Houghton, where Nelson Mandela made his home. The north-western area in particular is vibrant and lively, with the mostly black suburb of Sophiatown once centre of political activity and the Bohemian-flavoured Melville featuring restaurants and nightlife. Auckland Park is home to the headquarters of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, AFDA (The South African School of Motion Picture and Live Performance) and the University of Johannesburg. To the southwest of the city centre is Soweto, a township constructed during apartheid for housing displaced black South Africans then living in areas designated for white settlement. To the south of Johannesburg is Lenasia, a predominantly Asian neighbourhood which was constructed during apartheid specifically to house Asians.

Johannesburg has not traditionally been known as a tourist destination, but the city is a transit point for connecting flights to Cape Town, Durban, and the Kruger National Park. Consequently, most international visitors to South Africa pass through Johannesburg at least once, which has led to the development of several attractions for tourists. Recent additions have centred on history museums, such as the Apartheid Museum (with related visits to Constitution Hill) and the Hector Pieterson Museum. There is also a large industry around visiting former townships, such as Soweto and Alexandra. Most visitors to Soweto see the Mandela Museum, which is located in the former home of Nelson Mandela. Visitors can get a feeling for the layout of the city by visiting the Carlton Centre, in the south-eastern area of the CBD, which has an observation deck on the 50th floor. At 223 metres (732 feet), it is the highest office building in Africa and affords sweeping vistas of the city and surrounds. The nearby Museum Africa covers the history of the city of Johannesburg, as well as housing a large collection of rock art. Also a large draw for tourists is Gold Reef City, a theme park which offers a depiction of mining life at the turn of the nineteenth century, including an underground mine tour; other attractions include a large amusement park and a popular Tribal Dancing show. On the culture front, the city has several art museums, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which featured South African and European landscape and figurative paintings. The Market Theatre complex attained notoriety in the 1970s and 1980s by staging anti-apartheid plays, and has now become a centre for modern South African playwriting. The Joburg Theatre is South Africa’s foremost “receiving house” of live entertainment—presenting world class theatre, both local and international. The suburbs of Melville, Newtown, Parkhurst, Norwood, Rosebank and Greenside are popular for their bohemian atmosphere, street life, and many restaurants and bars. Nearby to these areas is the new up-coming area do Emmerentia best known for its parks and sleepy, trendy family-run restaurants such as D6 an award-winning Cape-Malay themed restaurant and Industry a bakery that also specialises in gourmet burgers and milkshakes that is classed by Joburgers as having the best burger-milkshake combo in town. Shopping is often popular with tourists, as the city offers a range of venues and experiences, from numerous upmarket shopping malls such as Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square, to various markets and flea markets, such as the Oriental Plaza and the Rosebank Flea Market; the latter are popular for souvenirs and African Art. Cultural tourists also visit the “Mai Mai Market” (“Ezinyangeni” – the place of healers; located on the eastern wing of the city centre) dedicated to traditional herbs and traditional healers. The Cradle of Humankind a UNESCO World Heritage Site is 25 kilometres (16 mi) to the northwest of the city. The Sterkfontein fossil site is famous for being the world’s richest hominid site and produced the first adult Australopithecus africanus and the first near-complete skeleton of an early Australopithecine. Other attractions in this area include the Lesedi Cultural Village, while Magaliesburg and the Hartbeespoort Dam are popular weekend (and holiday) destinations for Johannesburg residents. The Origins Centre Museum, see below, covers the origins of humankind in Africa, and houses an extensive collection of rock art. Johannesburg and environs offer various options to visitors wishing to view wildlife. The Johannesburg Zoo is one of the largest in South Africa. The Lion Park nature reserve, near Lanseria, is home to over 80 lions and various other game, while the Krugersdorp Nature Reserve, a 1500 ha game reserve, is a forty-minute drive from the city centre. The De Wildt Cheetah Centre in the Magaliesberg runs a successful breeding program for cheetah, wild dog and other endangered species. The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, situated in the “Cradle of Humankind” on 1200 ha of “the typical highveld of Gauteng” also runs a breeding programme for endangered species including Bengal tigers, Siberian tigers and the extremely rare white lion. To the south, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from the city centre, is the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve home to large mammals and hiking trails.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Johannesburg, LonelyPlanet.com – Johannesburg, Apartheid Museum, Wikivoyage Johannesburg and Wikipedia Johannesburg. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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