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Constitution Hill picture in Johannesburg
Christine Smith/USNWR

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  • Museums, Sightseeing, Tours Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.4
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    4.0
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Located in the city's Braampark neighborhood, Constitution Hill provides travelers with a mix of old and new Jo'burg. For those looking for historic Jozi, there's the Women's Gaol, the Old Fort and Number Four, three former prisons that were used to separately house female, white and black political prisoners until 1987. Famous inmates of Number Four include Mohandas Gandhi and Robert Sobukwe, while the Women's Gaol once held prominent female activists like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Fatima Meer and Albertina Sisulu. And iconic anti-apartheid leader Nelson "Madiba" Mandela holds the distinction of being the Old Fort's only black prisoner, kept here because of his status and escape concerns.

Also within steps of the former prisons is the Constitutional Court. Known as South Africa's highest court (much like the United States' Supreme Court), the Constitutional Court was founded after apartheid ended in 1994 and continues to serve as the highest court in important legal and constitutional matters. The property also features several noteworthy elements, such as a low-lying window that allows people to look into the court from outside (which represents the court's transparency) and an eye-level judges podium decorated with different Nguni cowhides (indicative of the diversity of the bench and equality between judges and lawyers).

According to past travelers, a tour that includes visits to the prisons and Constitutional Court is your best bet. While the prisons – which recent visitors said reminded them of concentration camps – left some feeling disheartened by the city's past, exploring the neighboring Constitutional Court can provide a sense of hope and amazement at how far South Africa has come.

To visit Constitution Hill, expect to travel by bus – there are five bus stops (four Hillbrow and one Braamfontein) within a few blocks – or by car. City Sightseeing South Africa's Red City Tour also includes Constitution Hill as one of its tour stops. An admission fee of 50 rand (around $3) for adults and 20 rand ($1) for students and children is required. A discounted 25 rand rate is available for senior citizens. A 90-minute tour is included in the entrance fee; other tours, including one offered at night, are available for an additional fee. While hours vary depending on the day, all of the property's attractions typically open at 9 a.m. However, expect shorter hours on Wednesdays, weekends and public holidays.

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#1 Apartheid Museum For a thorough understanding of South Africa's appalling apartheid era, a visit to Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum is a must. The museum features a series of graphic yet informative ... Read more » André-Pierre du Plessis / Flickr

#2 Mandela House Constructed in 1945 in the Orlando West section of Soweto, Johannesburg, the Mandela House became the home for Nelson Mandela (also known as Madiba) and his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko ... Read more » South African Tourism / Flickr

#3 Constitution Hill Located in the city's Braampark neighborhood, Constitution Hill provides travelers with a mix of old and new Jo'burg. For those looking for historic Jozi, there's the Women ... Read more » Christine Smith/USNWR

#4 Maboneng Precinct Lovers of good food, contemporary art and trendy shops will enjoy exploring the city's Maboneng Precinct. Known for its eclectic vibe (think New York City's Chelsea neighborhood or ... Read more » henkcoetzee / Flickr

#5 Montecasino Bird Gardens One of Jo'burg's most popular family attractions, the Montecasino Bird Gardens – which sits about 19 miles northwest of downtown – houses an array of brightly colored birds, reptiles and ... Read more » Andy G / Flickr

#6 South African National Museum of Military History Whether you're a history buff, a military enthusiast or just want a place to cool off on a hot South African day, odds are you'll enjoy the South ... Read more » Alan Wilson / Flickr

#7 Gold Reef City For a bit of heart-pounding fun, families cannot pass up an opportunity to explore Gold Reef City. Influenced by the region's prominent gold mining industry, this Jozi amusement park ... Read more » Xander Buys / Flickr

Apartheid Museum picture in Johannesburg
Mandela House picture in Johannesburg
Constitution Hill picture in Johannesburg
Maboneng Precinct picture in Johannesburg
Montecasino Bird Gardens picture in Johannesburg
South African National Museum of Military History picture in Johannesburg
Gold Reef City picture in Johannesburg
Apartheid Museum picture in Johannesburg
Mandela House picture in Johannesburg
Constitution Hill picture in Johannesburg
Maboneng Precinct picture in Johannesburg
Montecasino Bird Gardens picture in Johannesburg
South African National Museum of Military History picture in Johannesburg
Gold Reef City picture in Johannesburg

Powerful exhibits – including race-specific entrances, a series of hanging nooses and seven exterior pillars representative of South Africa's post-apartheid constitution – paint a picture of the country's past at Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum. André-Pierre du Plessis / Flickr

Nelson Mandela and his family lived in this home on and off for 50 years. The Mandela House now sits as a public heritage site and museum for those eager to learn more about the former president's life before his imprisonment at Robben Island. South African Tourism / Flickr

For a glimpse of South Africa's past alongside its political future, check out Johannesburg's Constitution Hill. Located less than 2 miles north of downtown Jozi, this must-see attraction includes an old fort once used as a prison and the Constitutional Court, South Africa's equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court. Christine Smith/USNWR

To experience the funkier side of Jo'burg, visit Maboneng Precinct. This trendy downtown neighborhood – which means "Place of Light" in the Sotho language – features an array of art galleries, restaurants and fashion boutiques. henkcoetzee / Flickr

While this wildlife attraction does have its share of reptiles and small mammals, it's all about the birds at Montecasino Bird Gardens. More than 60 avian species can be found here, including scarlet ibises, Nicobar pigeons and rainbow lorikeets. Andy G / Flickr

Military enthusiasts cannot miss the South African National Museum of Military History, which features a military vehicles and aircraft collection, a small firearms display and exhibits dedicated to the Anglo-Boer War and World War I. Alan Wilson / Flickr

Offering a stark contrast to the adjacent Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, a gold mining-themed amusement park, includes attractions like a runaway train rollercoaster, a mine shaft freefall ride and a gold panning experience. Xander Buys / Flickr

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