Constitution Hill is a unique heritage site in the inner city of Johannesburg. It is a campus for human rights, a place where visitors can come to witness and experience democracy at work. A visit to the site includes several attractions, which are all included in the tour price. The Constitutional Court, home of South Africa’s constitution, is one of the most significant pieces of post-apartheid architecture in South Africa. The Court houses a collection of artworks by eminent South Africa artists – over 200 tapestries, engravings, sculptures and paintings – all with a human rights theme. Built in 1893, the Old Fort is one of Johannesburg’s oldest buildings and was used as a fortress by Paul Kruger during the South African War. It has a forbidding entrance tunnel and striking fort architecture. Later the Old Fort was a prison for white male prisoners. Nelson Mandela was the only black prisoner to be held in this “whites only” prison.
The Women’s Jail is a handsome Victorian-style face-brick building, where the likes of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other political activists as well as the notorious Daisy de Melker were held. An exhibition throughout the prison tells the story of the prison and the women who were incarcerated here. In the northern courtyard of the Jail stand two new buildings that house the Gender Commission and other Chapter Nine organisations. Number Four was a notorious black male prison, where Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Sobukwe were both held. Exhibition attractions include the Emakhulukhuthu (the isolation cells), exhibitions based on research with ex-prisoners, and prisoner blanket and soap sculptures. From the ramparts visitors can view the inner city residential areas, downtown skyscrapers, mine-dumps and leafy northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Constitution Square includes the Great African Steps, the “We the People Wall”, showing messages from South Africans about their democracy. The bricks from the demolished Awaiting Trial Block pave the steps and form the wall to the new Constitutional Court Chamber.
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