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Braamfontein, fondly known as “Braamies” by Johannesburg locals, is the seat of the City of Johannesburg’s local government and the home of South Africa's Constitutional Court and a top South African university – the University of the Witwatersrand. Add a mix of office blocks, student accommodation, restaurants, retail outlets, colleges, theatres and hotels, and this culturally diverse part of the city revels in its own exciting and energetic vibe.
In 2002 local government realised how important the location and function of Braamfontein was to the local economy and embarked on an extensive regeneration programme for the area, supplemented by significant private-sector investment. Today, a city improvement district (CID), managed by the Braamfontein Management District, provides security and maintenance of the upgraded environment, including a high-visibility uniformed security force, parking attendants, closed circuit TV cameras, and extensive greening initiatives.
IIt is a happening, vibrant and multifaceted place that you should definitely experience when visiting the City of Gold. Braamfontein’s transformation from a rundown business district to a revamped Soho-style neighbourhood with chic hotels, art galleries, trendy bars, clubs and restaurants makes it a great place to visit.
Braamfontein’s allure lies in its mix of historical landmarks, like the Lord Milner Hotel dating back to 1906, and its bustling modern African mélange of hair salons, newspaper kiosks, fast-food restaurants, spaza (informal) shops and cafés.
Braamfontein must-sees include the striking Nelson Mandela Bridge, the Constitution Hill complex, the Johannesburg Planetarium, and a whole new generation of contemporary creative spaces, like 70 Juta, which houses avant-garde interior design, art, fashion, and film studios.
AArts and Entertainment
Braamfontein plays host to many artists and musicians in the South African scene and is also home to one of the country’s prime theatres - The Joburg Theatre. This landmark building has more than 1200 visitors every day and houses the Nelson Mandela Theatre within. One can always find a fantastic performance of both local and international plays on the go. The nearby National School of the Arts also feeds into the Braamfontein cultural zeitgeist with musicians, performers and actors all contributing to the vibrant local scene.
Braamies is also home to incredible amounts of street art, featuring local and international artists including Shephard Fairey who commemorated 25 years since the purple rain protests by doing a massive mural of Nelson Mandela that overlooks the precinct.
Food and Drink
A night out on the town in Braamfontein can be approached with gleeful abandon, and it’s a good thing too since chic hotels with glamorous lounges, galleries, trendy bars, clubs and avant-garde dining options abound. An almost staggering amount of new restaurants and businesses are popping up all the time By day, though, nothing beats the now-famous Neighbourgoods Market, where market living meets gourmet- and craft-style tastes every weekend, and often on weeknights too.
For a suburb that was once the poster child for urban decay, the rise of “Braamies” is definitely something every visitor to Johannesburg should experience for themselves. This cultural arc has now become one of the trendiest, most happening blocks in town.