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Top 5 Museums in Johannesburg

Apartheid Museum

Opening Hours:
09:00 to 17:00 (Mondays-Sunday)

Admission Fees:
Adults: R80
Pensioners, University Students & Children: R65
School learners: R35
Teachers: R40

NB: There are no guided tours available on Monday. Guided tours are only offered to 15 people or more.

Since its inception in the apartheid museum has kept South Africans and international visitors informed about the effects of apartheid, and the changes that were brought by the new dispensation. This museum illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid. 

A series of 22 individual exhibition areas takes the visitor through a dramatic emotional journey that tells a story of a state-sanctioned system based on discrimination and the struggle of the majority to overthrow this tyranny.

The museum is the beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.

South African National Museum of Military History

Opening Hours:

Daily from 09:00 to 16:30 (excluding Good Friday, Christmas Day and the first Sunday in September when the Jazz on the Lake concert is held at Zoo Lake)

Admission Fees:

Adults: R40.00
Learners & Students: R30.00
SA Senior Citizens: R20.00 

The South African National War Museum in Johannesburg was officially opened by Prime Minister Jan Smuts on 29 August 1947 to preserve the history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War. The Museum is situated in Erlswold Way in the northern Johannesburg suburb of Saxonwold adjacent to the Johannesburg Zoo. This museum came about because during the First World War (1914 - 1918) no formal showcase was made of South Africa’s involvement in that war. Therefore, in 1940 Captain J Agar-Hamilton was appointed official historian of the Union Defence Forces. The formation of a historical Research Committee that same year was to ensure the preservation of documents and military memorabilia and lay the foundation for the establishment of a museum. The South African National War Museum was officially opened on 29 August 1947 by the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Field Marshal J C Smuts PC, CM, OM, DTD, KC. The Museum is also regarded as the spiritual and symbolic home for all soldiers and veterans in South Africa. As a result a number of veterans’ organisations use the Museum as their headquarters.

Lesedi Cultural Village

Developed in 1995 as a tourist attraction.

Situated in the pristine bushveld at Broederstroom, just north of Johannesburg, conveniently situated on the R512 (the Lanseria Road) North of Johannesburg (and West of Pretoria) on the main route to Sun City and Hartebeespoort Dam is where Lesedi Cultural Village can be found.

Opening Hours:

09:00 – 17:00

Admission Fee:

It varies according to the type of tour chosen

If you are looking at broadening your horizon, learn about a new and unique culture which differs from yours, different rituals, different language, different traditional cuisine, different architecture then Lesedi Cultural village; that was developed in 1995 as a tourist attraction is the place for you. Lesedi contains five different homesteads, each representing a different culture; Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele.

There are options involved when visiting this cultural sanctuary, you could choose to just come for the day, a spot of lunch and a walk around, or you could take the other option, to stay overnight. On arrival you the guest will be welcomed by the families and shown to your homestead where you will be spending the night. Kind of takes you back to school, like a foreign exchange student, except this will be a cultural exchange.

If you’ve come just for the day try do one of the day tours from 11.30am to 4.30pm. The restaurants definitely deserve a mention, there is a new one called, the Nile Room, hookah pipes and all, serving some great dishes indigenous to North Africa. It must be mentioned that belly dancing can be organized.

Another culinary delight is the restaurant Nyama Choma- a 200 seater decorated in full African Garb while divided into three sections, North Africa, East Africa and South Africa [ seating the most] Then there are two Bomas, the traditional Ingoma, It is a huge indoor hut used for buffet and/or barbecue functions. Both Bomas accommodate 120 people.

The Lesedi Cultural Village offers superb African style accommodation offering 30 rooms all with their own private bathroom. There are 22 rooms with twin beds, 5 have triple bed capacity and 3 have double beds. Each of the rooms have coffee/tea making facilities for that early morning cup of coffee or tea. 

There are fantastic cultural dances where you will be amazed at the performances, craft markets with spectacular goods to buy and plenty more cultural experiences. If you feel like getting away for the day, then you can enjoy hiking, golfing, shopping, gym, spa treatments and much more in less than one hour’s drive from the village.

Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum

The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, two blocks away from where Hector Pieterson was shot and killed.
Soweto and South Africa, commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid and in particular the role played by the school children who took part in the Soweto protests of 1976, many of whom were shot by the apartheid police while protesting against the sub-standard of education in black schools in South Africa.

On June 16, 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in black secondary schools. The students planned to meet at Orlando Stadium before marching to the regional offices of the Department of Bantu Education, where they intended to raise their grievances with the authorities.

On the way to the stadium, they were met by police, who ordered them to end the march and disperse. A violent confrontation ensued in which students threw stones and police fired shots.

News of the events in Soweto soon spread, igniting uprisings around the country in which hundreds of people died. One of the first to be killed by the police was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. Newspaper photographer Sam Nzima was in Soweto on June 16 covering the protests and the riots which followed. His iconic image of Pieterson’s body being carried by high school student Mbuyisa Makhubo, with his sister, Antoinette Sithole, running alongside, is a graphic representation of repression under the apartheid regime and has become an iconic image around the world of the senseless cruelty and brutality of the apartheid state.

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm

Sundays: 10am to 4pm

Admission Fee:

Museum entrance:           R30,

Pensioners & students:    R10,

Children (ages 6 to 12):     R5

Liliesleaf Farm 

Located in northern Johannesburg...

Liliesleaf Farm located in northern Johannesburg, was the farm used secretly by African National Congress activists in the 1960s and was the location where many prominent African National Congress leaders were arrested, leading to the Rivonia Trial. Nowadays Liliesleaf Farm is a Museum and world-famous Heritage Site, attracting many visitors annually, and rated as a top "things to do in Johannesburg" site.
In 1961, Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia was purchased by Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe as headquarters for the underground Communist Party and a safe house for political fugitives. The purchase was made using South African Communist Party funds. Nelson Mandela needed a safe place from which to operate, and lived there under the assumed name of David Motsamayi as a worker in blue overalls employed by the owner to look after the farm.
On 11 July 1963, security police raided the farm and captured 19 members of the underground, charging them with sabotage. They were meeting in the thatched room, and were stunned by the raid.
The activists had already decided to move to another safe location, and this was to be the final meeting in the farmhouse. Nelson Mandela was already in prison, serving a sentence of several years for relatively minor offences, having been arrested the previous year. The police found documents during the raid incriminating Mandela. As a result, he was charged and brought to trial with the others.
The trial, which ran from October 1963 to June 1964, culminated in the imposition of life sentences for eight of the accused.
This historic site has been reopened to visitors. The buildings have been restored to their earlier condition, and visual and audio-visual displays recreate the dramatic events leading up to the police raid, and the raid itself.

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