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Best Landmarks in Johannesburg

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Formerly known as Sandton Square, this hub of city life in Johannesburg was renamed Nelson Mandela Square in 2004 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the birth of South Africa's democracy. Also the home of the Nelson Mandela statue, which was unveiled when the square was renamed, the square serves not only as a tribute to the famed president's historic efforts to bring peace to the nation but also a focal point where visitors and locals alike can contemplate the country's turbulent past. An Italian-style piazza full of shops, restaurants, and galleries, located near world-class hotels and the city's financial district, this is a must-see for any visitor to Johannesburg.

Meaning a place of light, Maboneng is an urban neighborhood that has been privately developed in eastern Johannesburg CBD. With several independent retail, restaurants and entertainment venues as well as loft apartments, offices, hotel, a museum and creative factory spaces, the place is a thriving cultural hub.

This is one of the most popular gardens in the province, situated west of Johannesburg, with a magnificent waterfall and resident Black Eagles. The gardens are well known among botanists, birdwatchers, the general public who come to enjoy the tea garden and the Sunday Picnic Concerts. A ring road runs through the lush area and is an easy walk of about an hour. A telescope is set up to grant a glimpse of the eagles. The nursery sells a variety of indigenous plants, and children enjoy the vast lawn areas where people can enjoy a picnic or simply relax.

The Cradle of Humankind is a pre-historic site like no other on Earth. Spread across over 18210.85 hectares (45,000 acres), the site is listed as a World Heritage Site because of the findings. The land is a maze of limestone caves where scientists have found many fossils and remains dating back to prehistoric times. The site has an abundance of dolomite, a type of rock formation, that helps with the formation of caves and fossils. Here excavations have found proof of human evolution and life. Among the 200 and more caves, there are around 13 sites where significant fossils have been found. Among the findings are tools made and used by humans at that time and remains of extinct animals. Some of the fossils are approximately 3 million years old and this site is said to have some of the oldest fossils ever found. The Mrs. Ples and Taung remains were found here at this site. Both the remains are significant findings and nothing like it has ever been found before.

This area of Johannesburg is filled with mixed themes and is rife with history. A symbol of South Africa's journey to freedom, the Constitutional Court sits where the Old Fort Prison Complex used to house both political and common criminals. Figures such as Robert Sobukwe, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were once imprisoned in these walls until its closure in 1983. This site has been transformed into a monument of justice. Guided and interactive tours are scheduled regularly.

As its name suggests, the Market Theatre, also known as the John Kani Theatre was once a fresh fruit and vegetable market. Dating back to the early 1900s, most of the original architecture still exists as well as a lot of the original signs. Within the huge complex, other than the Market Theatre stages, there are several galleries and restaurants. The three theaters at the Market are Main, Laager and Barney Simon. The venue stages all forms of production from drama, comedy, musical, community and South African to experimental theater.

At 228 meters (728 feet tall), the Carlton Centre is one of the tallest buildings in Africa, making it one of Johannesburg's most popular landmarks. Built in the 1970's, the center has been an iconic part of the city's skyline ever since, with such additional features as the 50th floor, Top of Africa, observation deck, which offers panoramic views of the city, as well as an underground shopping mall, which connects the center to the neighboring Carlton Hotel. Located in the heart of Johannesburg's Central Business District, this conveniently located landmark should be a part of any visitor's itinerary.

Dating back to the 19th-Century, Joubert Park is regarded as one of the city's oldest gardens. Credited to Volksraad i.e. the parliament of the former South African Republic, the most important feature of the park is the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Apart from that, the garden also has life-size chessboards, making it popular with people who love playing the game.

The architectural cousin of the Sentech Tower, the Telkom Joburg Tower has become such a symbol of Johannesburg that it has been integrated into the city's logo. At 90-storys tall, it is one of the tallest man-made structures in Africa, and is easily visible to visitors long before they ever reach the city. Formerly, the Tower had six public floors, including a revolving restaurant, but all were closed in 1981 due to security concerns. Today it functions only as a television tower, but remains an iconic part of the Johannesburg skyline.

At 237 meters/780 feet high, the Sentech Tower is one of Johannesburg's most easily identifiable landmarks. Built in 1962, it was originally called the Brixton or Albert Hertzog Tower, but was changed to its current name in 2001 when naming rights were sold to Sentech, one of the country's first wireless service providers. Today, the Tower serves as a radio and TV tower that broadcasts 18 FM and 7 TV stations. The tower does have an observation deck, but it was closed in 1982 due to anti-apartheid insurgent activities in the city, and has not been re-opened.

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