There’s no denying South Africa’s fraught 20th century history. At Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, the harrowing past is relayed in great detail, but ultimately instils triumphant hope and inspiration. It is an unmissable attraction for visitors to the city.
Constitution Hill tells the story of South Africa’s turbulent history and its extraordinary transition to democracy. It aims to help the public gain an understanding of how segregation and apartheid, and the abuse of power by the state, impacted people’s lives. It illustrates how people stood up for their rights, whatever the cost.
On the site of the original Johannesburg prison built in 1893 the complex grew over the next few decades to contain multiple incarceration units: the Old Fort, Number 4, the Women’s Jail and the Awaiting Trial Block. Nelson Mandela, Mahatama Gandhi, Albertina Sisulu, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela are just some of the renowned names that were imprisoned here.
Visitors can explore the prisons and see the conditions in which inmates were kept, and even discover individuals’ stories for unequivocal first-hand insight.
Towards the latter end of the 20th century the prisons were deactivated and left abandoned. On National Human Rights Day, 21st March 2004, the new Constitutional Court was inaugurated on the site, with the surrounding prisons revamped as museums and opened to the public. A walk through the various sites at Constitution Hill is truly a walk through history, from the pain of the past to the hope of a strong democratic future.
Visitors are advised to book a tour in advance to fully understand and appreciate the importance of Constitution Hill. Alternatively, there is an official app which smartphone users can download. It provides the essential information and will guide you through the diverse museums and attractions. Further information can be found on constitutionhill.org.za.
Guests staying at the Saxon should contact the Concierge who is on hand to help arrange your visit to Constitution Hill. Enquire today:
Tel: +27 (0)11 292 6000