Top 10 Madiba Attractions

Robben Island by CTT

Robben Island aerial view. Image courtesy Cape Town Tourism

Today South Africans all over the country celebrate Mandela Day by spending 67 minutes helping others in order to pay tribute to the great man. South African Tourism has made it easy to follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela with its Madiba’s Journey map and website, which highlights all major tourist attractions and places of interest related to his life.

1.Robben Island

Robben Island (a World Heritage Site and museum) is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Visitors can gain real insight into the life and times of Mandela and his fellow struggle heroes including Ahmed Kathrada, Robert Sobukwe, Clarence Makwetu, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu.

2.Mandela House Museum

Visit the house Mandela and his family occupied in Soweto. Situated in Vilakazi Street, it’s been carefully restored and gives visitors great insight into the Mandela family. The house is filled with memorabilia complete with family photographs and moving visuals. The museum’s a moving tribute to the incredible struggle for freedom.

Mandela House Museum in Vilakazi Street. Image by Darling Lama Productions.

Mandela House Museum in Vilakazi Street. Image by Darling Lama Productions.

3.Vilakazi Street, Soweto

Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived here, and Vilakazi St is the only street in the world to have had two Nobel Peace Prize winners as residents. Stroll down this historic street, taking in the sights such as the above-mentioned Mandela House Museum, or stop off at one of the eateries to enjoy some local cuisine. Vilakazi Street is within walking distance of the famous Hector Pieterson Museum.

The Capture Site by SA Tourism.

The Nelson Mandela Capture Site. Image courtesy South African Tourism.

4.Nelson Mandela Capture Site

On 5 August 1962, armed police flagged down a car driven by Nelson Mandela in a chauffeur’s uniform on the R103 near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. He’d been on the run for 17 months and was returning from a secret meeting with African National Congress (ANC) president Chief Albert Luthuli. To mark the spot is a sculpture comprising 50 steel rods that together form an image of Mandela’s face, designed by artist Marco Cianfanelli.


It was at Liliesleaf Farm that many prominent leaders of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid sought shelter and attended meetings. Some of these individuals were arrested in a police raid on the farm on 11 July 1963. Nelson Mandela, who was already serving a five-year prison term, joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. Mandela and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964.

6.Constitution Hill

The Constitution Hill Precinct in Braamfontein, Jo’burg, has a complex history dating back to 1892, when the Old Fort was built. Through the years, it functioned mainly as a prison, and in the dark days of apartheid it was here that many passive resisters and freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi in 1913 and later Nelson Mandela, were held. Many of those involved in the Defiance Campaign of 1952 and The Treason Trial of 1956 were also held here.

Constitution Hil

Constitution Hill. Image courtesy Darling Lama Productions.

7.Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum opened in 2001 and is acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, at the heart of which is the apartheid story. The Apartheid Museum illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid.

8.The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, including a walk-in experience of his post-presidential office. Visitors need to book online prior to a visit to the centre. There’s a beautiful digital exhibition on their website, titled Life & Times of Nelson Mandela.

Centre of Memory

Centre of Memory. Image courtesy Darling Lama Productions.

9.Nobel Peace Laureate Sculptures, V&A Waterfront

No walk around the V&A Waterfront is complete without a visit to Nobel Square to see the sculptures of the four South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates standing in a row: Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu and Albert Luthuli. These four great men all played their part in helping South Africa achieve democracy.

10.Nelson Mandela Voting Line Sculpture, Port Elizabeth

The Voting Line sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth consists of metal figures representing all the communities who share the land – and who voted peacefully on 27 April 1994. It’s a 38m-long metal sculpture of South Africans – of all shapes and sizes – connecting together to make what is simply entitled Voting Line. At the end of the queue is a metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela standing tall and victorious, his fist in the air.

Mandela black a white portrait

Information: The Madiba’s Journey map was developed by South African Tourism in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. You can also download the Madiba Journey app on iTunes.

Edited copy courtesy South African Tourism.

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