The Constitution Hill complex in Braamfontein is a microcosm of our country’s history and in many ways a beacon of hope for our future.

Photo: Jon Minster
A DOOR TO DEMOCRACY. The 9 m-high door to the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein depicts the 27 rights protected by our constitution.

The complex is an architectural work of art, built on the site of the notorious Number Four Prison where political prisoners like Albert Luthuli and Mahatma Gandhi were once detained, and modelled on a kgotla, a gathering place under a big tree where disputes are traditionally settled. Stately tree branches sculpted from wire hang from the ceiling, the judges sit at eye level with the gallery to emphasize equality before the law, and one of the walls is built from bricks salvaged from the prison.

After an hour-long tour of the court and what remains of Number Four and the Women’s Jail, take a walk around the ramparts surrounding Constitution Hill, which date back to 1893 when it served as a fort. Visitors are also welcome to browse the selection of artworks in the annex off the main court chamber. After feeding your mind, fill your tummy at one of the restaurants on site.

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