Did you know?
The Nelson Mandela Bridge was recognised as being "an outstanding civil engineering achievement" by the South African Institute of Civil Engineers.
Of the many buildings, roads, squares and bays named after the first democratically elected president of South Africa, the Nelson Mandela Bridge is the most fitting tribute to this great man.
This Johannesburg landmark symbolically links the old and new as it ushers traffic into the heart of rejuvenated downtown Johannesburg.
The Nelson Mandela Bridge, which cost R38 million, is the largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa.
The vast quantities of construction materials that went into its creation underpin what a feat of engineering it is. It took 4 000 cubic meters of concrete, 1 000 tons of structural steel and 500 tons of construction steel to realise the seemingly weightless pinnacle that gleams with the promise of the new.
The bridge is 284 meters long, 42 meters high at the north pylon and 27 meters high at the south pylon.
It accommodates two lanes of traffic in either direction, as well as reserved lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Rumbling beneath are over 40 train tracks as the bridge is located in the commuter hub of Johannesburg.
The bridge links the Newtown Cultural Precinct – home to Mary Fitzgerald Square, the historic Market Theatre, Museum Africa and Gramadoelas Restaurant – with lower Braamfontein, another site of renewal encompassing the Constitutional Court, The University of the Witwatersrand and The Civic Theatre.
This landmark in Johannesburg was constructed as part of the ongoing BlueIQ initiative, which has poured over R500 million into the rejuvenation of the downtown area. Nelson Mandela himself officially opened the bridge on 20 July 2003.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
Drive a car or catch a taxi to Braamfontein. The Nelson Mandela Bridge is at the end of Bertha Street. You’ll also go over the bridge as a part of many Johannesburg tours.
Best time to visit
By day to absorb the hustle and bustle of downtown Johannesburg, or by night to see the bridge gloriously illuminated against the dark sky.
Around the area
Braamfontein and Newtown are filled with sites of historic and cultural interest including The Market Theatre, Mary Fitzgerald Square, Museum Africa, Constitutional Hill and the Civic Theatre.
Tours to do
The Nelson Mandela Bridge is part of many tours of Johannesburg and Soweto, so ask your tour operator for a route that passes this landmark.
It’s worth taking a look at the bridge on foot, but finding parking in downtown Johannesburg can be tricky. Your best bet is to park at the nearby Market Theatre and walk the half kilometre to the bridge.
What to eat
The famous Gramadoelas Restaurant is nearby (next door to the Market Theatre) and serves up delicious foods from across Africa. There are also plenty of coffee shops and fast food outlets in the area.