Kate Els Johannesburg Financial District -4
See&Do South Africa

Exploring the Johannesburg Financial District

A few weeks ago, we ventured into the Johannesburg Financial District, well the original one anyway…

Above: The Johannesburg City Hall just as dusk set in and the lights came on…

I know most people believe the Jozi CBD is a scary, dark place where you’re likely to get mugged (or worse) and should be avoided at all costs. The truth is though, although there is certainly a criminal element to be aware of, the city is pretty big and some sections are wonderfully empty on weekends.

The original Johannesburg Financial District is a great example of this. During the week, there’s a definite hustle going on around Commissioner Street and its surrounds, but on weekends it’s almost abandoned and if you’re in a group and make sure to keep your wits about you, it’s an interesting outing to walk the streets and take in the majesty of buildings that have been forgotten. I’ll post some safety tips at the bottom of this blog, in case you’re keen to go yourself.

To Let: Although not technically skyscrapers, Jozi’s buildings can be pretty imposing when you’re standing beneath them

It’s an eerie feeling to walk around your own city and feel out of place, but Joburgers don’t spend time amongst the original buildings that create an actual city. Instead, we spend time in our isolated suburbs, hardly venturing out of our self-subscribed radius.

This is my second-favourite building in Joburg, The Barbican. My most favourite is The Cosmopolitan in Maboneng, in case you were wondering.

I wasn’t going to post these photos on my blog, because I can’t really say much more other than we walked around town and got lucky with some dramatic clouds, but after posting a few photos to Instagram at the time, I realised that Joburgers are hungry to see their own city.

In this case though, the images aren’t of anything terribly sad or awful or impoverished, but just our beautiful buildings… enjoy.

The Brooklyn: this building would not be out of place in a Wes Anderson movie

To the left, the Consolidated Building (a former investment firm), and on the right, Standard Bank

My own private boy band: The friend we were showing around and Alessio

Just about the only action we saw…

Walking the Johannesburg Financial District

  • One of the biggest concerns people have about visiting the CBD is where to park. We usually station ourselves outside the McDonalds at Ghandi Square. There a few people about, there is security and guards to keep an eye on your car. Also, you can get a coffee after if you need.
  • Take only what you need. Leave behind bulky backpacks and anything extra, you don’t want to be lugging it up and down blocks.
  • Keep alert – if everybody is shooting the same thing, make sure one person is looking about to deter any opportunistic sneakies.
  • Take a little cash – you may want to buy some water from a vendor.
  • Ask before you shoot – don’t just take a photo of a person on the street, it’s rude and disrespectful.
  • A good time to go is about 4pm, make your way back to your car before it’s too dark
  • Try go in a group of 5 or more people

If you’re nervous to venture into the city without a guide, I highly recommend PAST Experiences‘ tours of the inner city and you can even read up on the graffiti tour I did a while back here.

A self-appointed director of happiness amongst my friends and family, I spend my days writing, brainstorming online marketing ideas and figuring out which country is next on the bucket list of places to see.

Comments (2)

  • Work at the Legislature so this is a daily view but The Barbican is my fav building in town. Love everything about it.

    Reply
    • I gave up researching how to get in touch with the owners at one stage because it became a rabbit hole, but it was a candidate for a wedding venue.

      Reply

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