In spite of its bawdy start as a mining shanty town, today Johannesburg is the second largest city in Africa and frequently forms the first port of entry for South African tours. The city owes its existence to the discovery of gold by prospector George Harrison. Harrison, who pegged the first claim on the reef, sold it for just ₤10 and disappeared without a trace. Built on the site of the greatest gold-mining area on earth, today this vibrant city is not just an industrial giant but the heart of the country’s economy.
A diverse cultural melting pot, this City of Gold (or iGoli as it is sometimes locally known) offers everything from traditional markets to exclusive boutiques in upmarket malls, theatres, museums, world-class restaurants and more.
Visitors who tour South Africa frequently arrive in Johannesburg, where highlights include cultural tours and reminders of the country’s turbulent history. Guided tours of Johannesburg’s vibrant township of Soweto reveal the city’s colourful culture, while the Apartheid Museum is a poignant reminder of its past and the beautiful Nelson Mandela Square is a tribute to South Africa’s former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The magnificent mansions of gold magnates still stand in beautiful Parktown, while downtown Johannesburg is home to landmarks such as the old mining houses, the City Library, Old Telephone Exchange, Rissik Street Post Office and Old Stock Exchange, as well as the traditional healers’ market and other historic sites, including the offices of legends such as Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.