Newtown Precinct – Johannesburg’s Cultural Melting Pot

Newtown Cultural Precinct has become Johannesburg's tourist hot spot in recent years. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes this development has proved that putting in the effort truly pays off. Attracting large numbers of local residents as well as travelers from far-off there is much to see and do in the renewed Newtown Precinct.

Some years ago, the Newtown area had fallen into a slum overlooked by the derelict cooling towers and dark turbine hall of the first coal power station in Johannesburg. Suffering much the same neglect and rot as other sections of the disused Central Business District, Newtown seemed doomed. However, the Johannesburg Metropolitan has put in place a fantastic program, iGoli 2000, to revive the Newtown Precinct. Since the implementation of this plan, Newtown has certainly seen many major advances with the improvement of various local attractions as well as several new attractions to Johannesburg.

The main feature of the all new Newtown Precinct is the massive Victorian building which houses both the renowned Museum Africa as well as the Market Theater. Pay a visit to the fascinating Museum Africa and discover the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography, Bernberg Museum of Fashion and Museum of South Africa Rock Art. The large museum’s collection includes exhibits that lead patrons through the history of man and the struggle for freedom. Adjoining the museum is the impressive Market Theatre Complex which consists of the Main Theater, Barney Simon Theater and Laager Theater. This grand theater has played an important role in South African history, hosting protest theater during the years of struggle. Many great names have become known through this theater and performed works here, amongst them are Athol Fugard, Mbogeni Ngema (Writer of “Sarafina”), John Kani, Winston Shona and Pieter-Dirk Uys (aka Evita Bezuidenhout). Kippies, on the doorstep of the theater, has long been a well-known jazz venue in Johannesburg and continues to entertain guests. Other spots of interest in the culturally diverse Newtown Precinct are Horror Cafe (music and street poetry), Songwriter’s Club, Carfax and the Bassline. Not to be forgotten is the SAB (South African Breweries) World of Beer which offers beer tours from Tuesdays through to Saturdays.

For a day or a night out on the town, head off to the Newtown Cultural Precinct. Always remember to keep safe, avoid excessive alcohol and don’t walk through the streets alone at night. As long as you are careful you are certain to have a fantastic time in iGoli – place of gold.

back to Johannesburg