Did you know?
The Donkin Reserve is also known as the ‘balcony of the city’ of Port Elizabeth.
Port Elizabeth's urban-based Route 67 is one of the most exciting and creative of South Africa's inner-city developments.
Visual arts, urban design and heritage serve to unite all segments of a formerly divided community to show the world the magic that is possible in post-apartheid South Africa.
Start your journey in the Donkin Reserve on Belmont Terrace at the old lighthouse which houses Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. Here you will find yourself surrounded by a mix of exquisite old Victorian churches, newly renovated, terraced cottages on Donkin Street, a lighthouse that once guided ships into Algoa Bay. Sir Rufane Donkin, founder of Port Elizabeth, built a stone pyramid on the site in memory of his wife. A message on the pyramid reads: “To the memory of one of the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below.”
Dominating the hilltop, the largest South African flag in the world proclaims the newly democratic status of the country's people.
Among many longstanding landmarks you'll find that more contemporary elements have been added. There is the large metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela, fist raised in triumph, leading a line of South Africans representing the voters who cast their ballots in the country's first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
Across the lawns there are sheltered booths of sea-blue hues, in the shape of ships' sails. Near the terraced houses is a massive set of silver pipes that catch the famous winds of Port Elizabeth to create haunting music. And across from the elegant Edward Hotel is a stainless steel statue of a woman holding a chair – she represents the contribution made by women past and present of Nelson Mandela Bay.
One of the most remarkable elements of Route 67 – a collection of 67 art pieces celebrating the years Nelson Mandela devoted to public life – is the massive mosaic at the base of the pyramid.
Stroll about this outdoor display and you’ll be exposed to the best elements of the Eastern Cape: the province's indigenous people, the settlers, modern-day sports personalities, Karoo scenes complete with windmills and springbok, nautical settings, and even modern-day traffic circles.
Take a stroll down the coloured steps past posted artworks that continue to tell the South African story. Look back up at the lighthouse and you’ll see a wall adorned with an assortment of figures: taxi passengers, newspaper vendors and jazz trumpeters, to name a few.
If you're in need of a breather at this point, pay a visit to the Phoenix Hotel. Dating back to 1837, this old watering hole is packed with enough collectables, photos and memorabilia to provide talking points for a couple of rounds at least.
The meeting of old and new is a recurrent theme, starting with the curved campanile frieze depicting the city’s heritage over nearly two centuries. Over the road a statue of Queen Victoria faces the Settlers’ Way flyovers and the nearby bus station where a kaleidoscope of street art murals reflect the life and times of 21st century Port Elizabeth.
The blocks from the Donkin Reserve lies the Athenaeum, where a circular mosaic depicts harmony in nature as reflected in a silver pillar. Inside, natural lighting illuminates permanent and temporary exhibitions that include a collection of beaded quotes by talented crafters from the Eastern Cape.
Route 67 has also been designed as an important tourism hub for the city, paying respect to its heritage, culture and arts. And as you stand next to a celebrating Mandela, raise your fist with his and wish the City of Port Elizabeth and all its people well...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Umzantsi Afrika Tours
Tel: +27 (0)41 379 1629
Cell: +27 (0)82 822 4717
How to get here
Art Route 67 includes stopping-off points from Central in Port Elizabeth all the way to Uitenhage. Check the listed Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism website for details of the route.
Best time to visit
Many of the sights along the route are outdoors, so pick a clear, sunny day for your drive along Art Route 67.
Around the area
Trips to the Addo Elephant National Park area are popular; a drive up the coast to Port Alfred for lunch is also a great way to spend a day out of Port Elizabeth.
Tours to do
One of the specialist groups doing tours of Art Route 67 is Umzantsi Afrika Tours. See Contacts for details.
Because the points along Art Route 67 are often far apart, it’s best to follow the route in the company of a city guide.
What will it cost
Your major cost will be payment to a guide, who will take you around Art Route 67 at around R450 per person.
Length of stay
Set aside a half-day for your visit along Art Route 67.
What to pack
Don’t forget to pack a camera for stills or video – this is going to be a very visual experience.
Where to stay
Port Elizabeth has a good accommodation infrastructure – see the listed Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism website for details.
What to eat
Seafood restaurants abound in Summerstrand.
See the Events section of the listed Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism website for details.