Durban City Hall
Did you know?
Showpieces at the Natural Science Museum include a dodo skeleton and an Egyptian mummy
With its flamboyant neo-Baroque architecture and coppered dome, you can hardly miss the impressive Durban City Hall (also known as the eThekwini City Hall).
Despite being more than a century old and dwarfed by surrounding modern skyscrapers, the building remains a grand example of Edwardian neo-Baroque architecture and well worth a morning's visit.
The City Hall was built in the early 1900s due to the rapid growth of Durban. City centre changes resulted in the original town hall taking on a new mantle as the Durban post office.
The city fathers commissioned a new town hall in 1903, choosing what they termed a 'bold and progressive' design submitted by architect Stanley Hudson.
Hudson set about creating a replica of the Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, which served as his inspiration.
His legacy is a stone-coloured structure adorned with sculptures portraying the arts, commerce, music, literature and industry, while the main pediment sculptures are representative of unity, patriotism and Great Britain.
In addition to the mayor's parlour and municipal chambers, the building houses a public library, auditorium, and the Durban Art Gallery and Natural Science Museum behind its gracious façade, which makes it a multifaceted attraction.
The art gallery showcases an array of South African and international artworks, while the museum displays a selection of fossils – including that of a dodo – animals, birds, reptiles and insects.
In keeping with its imposing exterior, the building's interior décor features wooden flooring, stained-glass windows, wrought-iron balustrades, marble pillars and classic arches.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Durban City Hall
Tel: +27 (0) 31 311 1111
Durban Art Gallery
Tel: +27 (0) 31 311 2264/9
Natural Science Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 31 311 2256
How to get here
The Durban City Hall is located in the heart of the city on Pixley Ka Seme Street, formerly known as West Street. The city of Durban is served by the King Shaka International Airport.
Best time to visit
The Durban Art Galley and Natural Science Museum are open Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 3.45pm. The public library is open from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 12 noon on Saturday.
Around the area
Within walking distance of the city hall you’ll find the Playhouse theatre complex, Medwood Botanical Gardens and the Victoria Street Market.
What will it cost
Entrance to the City Hall, public library, art gallery and museum is free.
What to eat
Try a traditional Indian bunny chow – a half-loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a hot, spicy curry.