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Constitution Hill - Johannesburg

constitution hill johannesburgConstitution Hill is a city precinct, anchored by the South African Constitutional Court – the highest court in the country on constitutional matters. Constitution Hill is also the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, where thousands of ordinary people were brutally punished before the dawn of democracy. Many of South Africa’s political activists, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Walter Sisulu were detained here. What once was a place of injustice and brutality has been transformed into a place of solidarity and democracy.

Situated on a hill overlooking the bustling Johannesburg city and the fostered suburbs, Constitution Hill provides a unique perspective of Johannesburg and its rich history. The site is home to the Women’s Gaol museum, Number Four Museum, and Old Fort Museum. These areas host gripping exhibitions with themes that reveal South Africa’s rich heritage and advocate human rights. Furthermore, Constitution Hill is an imperative platform for Heritage, Education, and Tourism related programmes.

Nowhere can the story of South Africa's turbulent past and its extraordinary transition to democracy be told as it is at Constitution Hill. This National Heritage site has witnessed a century of South Africa's history. From British soldiers who fought with the Boers at the turn of the century, to the youth caught up in the Soweto Uprising, to the dawn of democracy and the building of South Africa's Constitutional Court, Constitution Hill has witnessed it all. Visit Constitution Hill and learn about the injustices of South Africa's past while observing the process by which freedom was won and is now protected. Exhibitions and guided tours have been designed as an interactive experience, offering visitors the opportunity to participate in the building of Constitution Hill.

Some of the exhibitions and museums you can engage with at Constitution Hill include the following:

The Number Four
The journey to Number Four, the dark heart of Constitution Hill, deepens the visitor's understanding of what it means to be placed at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and how the apartheid system made criminals of black men. Prisoners such as Mahatma Ghandi, Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela and the Students of the 1976 uprising know this prison all too well.

The Old Fort
Built in 1893, this is one of Johannesburg's oldest buildings and was used as a fortress by Paul Kruger during the Anglo Boer War. This was a prison for white male prisoners, with Nelson Mandela being the only black prisoner to be held in this "whites only" prison.

The Women's Gaol
The grace of this Victorian-style building belies the pain and suffering that occurred within. This is the place where the likes of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Fatima Meer and many other political activists were held.

Constitutional Court
South Africa's highest court, the guardian of the basic human rights and freedom that so many imprisoned here had fought for and won, also houses a collection of artworks by eminent South Africa artists. A tour through the court gives a visitor a chance to experience a real court case from the visitor decks. In addition to the guided tours, Constitution Hill also offers a range of meeting, banqueting, conferencing venues, and locations for film shoots. A full calendar of public programmes, temporary and permanent exhibitions bring the site to life and enables the public to connect with the activities of the Constitutional Court.



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