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PPort Elizabeth's urban-based Route 67 is one of the most exciting and creative of South Africa's inner city developments, consisting of 67 public artworks dedicated to the freedom of South Africa.
Visual arts, urban design and heritage assets are combined into an experience aimed at uniting all segments of a formerly divided community and showing the world what magic exists in the post-apartheid era.
Start your journey in the Donkin Reserve at Belmont Terrace at the old lighthouse that 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, and a lighthouse that once guided ships into Algoa Bay. Sir Rufane Donkin, the 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 democratic status of the country's people.
Among many longstanding landmarks you'll find that more contemporary elements have been added. There is a 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 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.
Then 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, including 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 a curved campanile frieze depicting the city’s heritage over nearly 2 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.
Just 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 been designed as an important tourism initiative 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
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)41 582 2575
How to get here
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 Route 67.
Things to do
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.
One of the specialist groups doing tours of Route 67 is Umzantsi Afrika Tours. See website for details.
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 wide range of accommodation on offer – see the listed Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism website for details.
What to eat
Seafood restaurants abound in the suburb Summerstrand.
- Route 67
- Mandela Bay Development Agency
- Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism
- Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
- Calabash Tours
- Alan Tours
- Umzantsi Africa Tours
- Phoenix Hotel