Nelson Mandela Attractions Around South Africa

Since Mandela Day is just around the corner, we cannot help but admire and visit the monuments, buildings, museums, bridges, statues and exhibitions that celebrate the late Madiba. So, if you're wondering what to do after you have done your 67 minutes, why not head to one of these attractions around South Africa and pay your respects to this inspirational and influential leader. 

Statue of Nelson Mandela at Nelson Mandela Square – Sandton, Johannesburg

Nelson Mandela Square, formerly known as Sandton Square, is one of the busiest hotspots in Johannesburg. Not only because it's a shopping and restaurant hub that attracts locals and foreigners alike with its array of on-trend stores and good food, but because it is the home of the Nelson Mandela statue. Sculpted by Kobus Hattingh and Jaco Maponyane and unveiled on 31 March 2004, this statue is one of the most popular attractions in Sandton, allowing visitors the opportunity to view it up close and take a few photos and selfies with a gigantic Madiba.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory – Houghton, Johannesburg

There is no question about it, late President Nelson Mandela was one of the most influential leaders of our time, leaving an impressive legacy that'll stand the test of time. The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory in Houghton at Madiba’s post-presidential office keeps Madiba's legacy alive through a collection of exhibitions and dialogues. If you're into history, time travel or simply just want to find out as much as possible about Nelson Mandela, then this is the place to be.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site – Howick, KwaZulu-Natal

This site marks the very spot where Nelson Mandela was taken into custody by police on 05 August 1962. The police flagged down Nelson Mandela driving a car wearing a chauffeur’s uniform on the R103 road near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. Other than the unique sculpture that'll have you captivated (just a fair warning, there is a bit of a walk to get to the sculpture site), the memorial site offers plenty of information about the capture of Madiba. The Museum is an interesting stop after you've visited the sculpture, but it is currently under construction.

Nelson Mandela Statue at The Union Buildings – Pretoria

We mentioned the Nelson Mandela statue overlooking Nelson Mandela Square, but the Union Buildings in Pretoria are also home to a 9m-high bronze statue of Nelson Mandela. It is the tallest sculpture of our former president in existence. The sculpture positions Madiba with his arms outstretched, symbolising his embrace of the whole nation, with one foot in front of the other indicating a nation on the move. At the foot of the Union Buildings, this statue stands on the very spot where Mandela was inaugurated as our country's first democratically elected president in 1994, replacing the statue of James Barry Hertzog, which has been moved to new space on the premises. The buildings housed Madiba's offices from 1994 to 1999, as well as his body (lay in state) after his passing.

Nelson Mandela Bridge – Newtown, Johannesburg

A stunning feature that must be seen is the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Newtown (Johannesburg CBD). This iconic masterpiece is the largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa, which connects the areas of Newtown and Braamfontein. It was officially opened by the former president himself on 20 July 2003. The bridge is stunning to look at by day, but by night it is beautifully lit up for the whole of Joburg to see. Another must-see in Johannesburg.

Mandela House Museum – Vilakazi Street, Soweto, Johannesburg

Step back in time by visiting The Mandela House Museum, which was our former presidents home from the late 1940s. This is where he lived with his wife, Winnie, and their two children. You can find the museum at 8115 Vilakazi Street in Soweto, filled with memorabilia about the Mandela family as well as historical photographs that are just fascinating to look at. The house has been carefully restored and preserved and gives visitors great insight into the life and legacy of Madiba.

Robben Island – Cape Town

A trip to Cape Town is not complete without paying a visit to the popular and well-known World Heritage Site, Robben Island and the Robben Island Museum, which sheds light on Madiba's years in prison. Take the time to visit the tiny cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence and browse through all the interesting history that has been documented at the museum. Not only will you get a look into the time of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment, but you'll also gain insight into the life and struggle of other heroes such as Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Clarence Makwethu and many others. Today, this prison-cum-museum stands as a beacon of hope.

Nelson Mandela Youth & Heritage Centre – Qunu, Eastern Cape

Qunu is where a young Mandela spent his childhood and is now also the location that is home to The Mandela Museum. The museum is made up of three separate structures: the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, and the Bhunga Building in Mthatha, and an open-air museum at Mvezo, where Madiba was born. This destination promises a memorable cultural experience and plenty of insight into the life of Nelson Mandela. There are also guided tours and heritage trails that allow you to "follow in his footsteps", so to speak.

Nobel Square – Cape Town

If you happen to be taking a stroll through the V&A Waterfront, then why not make a stop at the Nobel Square to see the sculptures of our country's four South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates? Standing next to each other in a row, you'll see the sculptures of Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu and Albert Luthuli in tribute to their dedication, strive and passion in helping South Africa become a better nation and a democracy.