Price range, per nightmin R max R
*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Bensusan Photographic Museum, SAB World of Beer, Johannesburg Zoo, Satyagraha House, Enoch Sontonga Memorial Park, Moyo Restaurants, Newtown Cultural Precinct, Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, Brenthurst Gardens, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Rand Easter Show, Radium Beer Hall, Oriental Plaza, ABSA Art Gallery, The Bag Factory, Standard Bank Gallery, MuseuMAfricA
Owned by the country’s largest telecommunications company, the Hillbrow Tower is South Africa’s – and Africa’s – tallest building. It’s staggering to think that the tower was constructed way back in 1971 and still holds this title. It can be seen from afar, a familiar beacon for anyone seeking directions through the streets of Johannesburg.
The Hillbrow Tower was built in a densely populated area and erected to a height of 269m to ensure it remained well above the average highrise building in order to send out microwave signals, a new technology at the time. The foundations went deep into the ground, to 40m to limit the building’s movement.
In 2005 the building was renamed the Telkom Johannesburg Tower but the name has failed to stick and South Africans continue to refer to it as the Hillbrow Tower.
In the early years, the tower was open to the public and the long ride in the lift, at 6m per second, took visitors up to a viewing deck with large plate glass windows. Higher up was the Bio restaurant and Cloud 9 nightclub. One would guess that the evening skies at this height were spectacular for both diners and clubbers. Ten years later, the tower was closed as a possible target, deemed a national key point, during a time of great political unrest.
In 2010, a huge soccer ball was fitted to the midriff of the tower to celebrate the World Cup hosted by South Africa, bringing a splash of colour to the rather drab grey tower.
The tower’s owners are considering revamping the tower in an effort to bring back the public to this iconic landmark that is such a major feature of the city’s skyline. Let’s hope this happens.