When staying at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, put some time aside to go on an inner city guided walking tour.
Recently, our team was lucky enough to join Gerald Garner from JoburgPlaces which is an inner-city based tourism business. Our tailor-made walking tour took in some amazing public sculptures, the 1 Fox precinct including Little Fox bar, Hola Harvest an amazing, urban, gardening project, the rooftop bar at the Reef Hotel and the Somerset House Building.
Pull on your comfortable walking shoes, grab your sunhat, pick up your bottle of water and come along for the walk as we explore some of Johannesburg’s history and get to understand more about present day activities in Jozi, home to Africa’s largest economy.
We kicked off in Main Street. Here there is a beautiful pedestrian mall, right outside the Anglo American headquarters which is home to the famous impala statue. This work is one of the most popular public sculptures in South Africa and has two names The Stampede or The Impala Fountain . Dating back to 1960 this delightful work was created by Herman Wald. We also saw another impressive sculpture – this one outside Chancellor House on the corner of Fox and Gerard Sekoto streets. Now a freedom struggle museum this is the site of the offices operated by Mandela & Tambo Attorneys in the 1950s. This large artwork is called Shadow Boxer, and is by Marco Cianfanelli, a renowned South African artist who has been involved in a wide range of projects involving art, architecture and public spaces. The statue is based on a photograph of a young Mandela shadow boxing on a nearby rooftop. The plinth of the statue is inscribed with a quote taken from Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: “In the ring, rank age, colour, and wealth are irrelevant.
Next we visited the 1Fox Precinct. This area was originally one of the mining camps that sprung up at the time of the discovery of gold in the 1880s. Today it is home to a number of businesses such as Good Luck Bar & Restaurant, Fox Junction Event Venue, Mad Giant Brewery and Urbanologi LPV Distillery, Food Market Shed and Little Shoppe of Treasures. Little Fox is a charming cocktail bar where we were treated to a craft gin experience under the guidance of the team from Ginologist who are dedicated to making scientifically distilled craft gins. We learnt so much about the alchemy of creating artisanal spirits. And of course we had to sample some of the products in a refreshing gin and tonic! Cheers!
We met the team from Hola Harvest which is an inner city farm run by a group of young agri-entrepreneurs. A wide range of fresh produce such as leafy vegetables, strawberries, chillies and salad flowers are grown here. The produce is sold to restaurants and the profits go to the entrepreneurs. In true pioneer spirit Hola Harvest also makes condiments and sauces.Yum!
Johannesburg is home to some of the best restaurants and coolest bars in Africa! Whilst in the financial district, we dropped in at the Reef Hotel and proceeded to the 16th Floor. Here we found Elevate a fabulous rooftop bar giving breathtaking 360 degree panoramic views of the city skyline. What better way to enjoy the view than order a glorious locally produced gin or craft beer and watch the sun dip under the western horizon of the city of gold! This is why the word sundowner was invented.
Next we went onto Somerset House, the second oldest building on Gandhi Square. One of Jozi’s greatest architectural gems, this edifice is being brought back to life with Gerald Garner as one of the collaborators. This building contains many secrets, not least of the all those hidden in several small rooms containing locked safety deposit boxes. We were treated to a exclusive dinner in the vintage, underground bar called Zwipi which has been created alongside the deposit box rooms. With substantial plans underway, the arcade will metamorphosize into a restaurant called Scatterlings. The upper two floors will house an apartment hotel with five units, called Balcony Gardens. Collectively this development will be called Thunder Walker