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NNestled between the CBD and Braamfontein, just west of the Nelson Mandela Bridge is the Johannesburg Park Station, which serves as Johannesburg’s transport hub. It is the central railway and bus station in Johannesburg, and is the largest railway station in Africa. The station was established in 1897 and was originally named Park Halt.
Park Station has gone through a number of reinventions over the years. During its infancy, it was just a beautiful 154m-long steel and glass structure that was used until the late 1920s. In 1926 the city realised that it urgently needed a new station in order to accommodate the city’s emergence as the gold capital of the world. An architect, by the name of Gordon Leith, was called upon to reinvent it. This step ultimately led to the opening of the concourse in 1932, which boasted eight platforms, four approach tracks, and saw traffic of some 16 million passengers each year.
AAt one point, it even served as the point of arrival for the British Royal Family in 1947. Between 1951 and 1954, Park Station underwent more development. Platforms and tracks were reportedly lowered by 4m so that passenger concourses could be built above them and new tracks were added.
DDuring the 1990s, the concourse was sealed off when Nelson Mandela launched a new station concept – “an integrated commuter/retail space known as Park City”, this time without separate platforms and entrances for black and white people.
According to Mandela, Park Station had become “a symbol of a divided Johannesburg cut in two by a river of steel made up of railway lines and unfriendly buildings”. It also played a significant role during the 2010 Fifa World Cup as people commuted between the Johannesburg and Nasrec stations.
South African urban architectural design tours introduce visitors to the eclectic array of styles and influences behind the country’s most iconic buildings.
South African Breweries’ World of Beer in Newtown Cultural Precinct, Johannesburg, presents a fascinating history of beer globally, and brewing in South Africa – with some welcome samples thrown in.
Leafy Greenside in Johannesburg looks spectacular in spring and offers excellent restaurants and bars, great shopping and nearby outdoor attractions like golf, water sports and botanical gardens.
Wits Art Museum – part of the University of the Witwatersrand – houses an African art collection that was started in the 1920s and includes masks, photographs, paintings and more.
The Top of Africa is a wrap-around viewing deck at the top of the 50-storey, 223m-high Carlton Centre in Johannesburg.
Sandton is Johannesburg’s financial capital, as well as boasting 5-star luxury hotels, world-class conference venues and premier shopping destinations, including Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square and the Marc.
Johannesburg might be something of an urban jungle, but it also has some wonderful natural attractions. The land on which Johannesburg is built was once grassland, but is now the biggest urban forest in the world, with over 10 million trees in its city, gardens, 600 parks, open spaces and suburbs.
There are many places to eat in Soweto from formal restaurants to more informal taverns and shebeens. There’s lots to experience in Soweto, so include a meal at one of the more popular restaurants as part of your tour itinerary.