As a born and raised Joburger, I’ve always known the city to be unsafe and to avoid venturing there. But with the likes of Newtown and Maboneng, the city is in the beginning stages of an unbelievable transformation.
I have recently returned to my home-town, Johannesburg, after living in the Cape for 7 years, and even though Maboneng isn’t new to Joburgers, I am amazed at the revival the city centre has encountered.
In the last 2 months, I’ve been to the Maboneng Precinct 4 times. Once for a lazy, wine-filled weekend, then for Sunday morning music, cocktails and exploration, another time for a friend’s bachelorette party and lastly, on another occasion, for delicious food, drinks and to take a visiting friend on a quick tour.
To me, it’s a vision and a celebration of future Johannesburg. The vibe is metropolitan, authentic, classy South Africa; A celebration of our history and a reconciliation towards a prosperous future.
The Maboneng revival started when developer, Jonathan Liebmann, purchased old construction warehouses in 2008. He teamed up with acclaimed sustainable architect Enrico Daffonchio to create the cultural hub that is now known as Arts on Main. This building is one of the two main buildings that make up the majority of the Precinct.
Arts on Main has retained it’s industrial look with concrete, red brick walls and metal fire escapes whilst introducing modern touches with a big gravel courtyard filled with olive and lemon trees and the artistic spaces and restaurant that now occupy this venue.
Along the tree-lined roads of the Precinct, the industrial-looking buildings are filled with hotels, apartments, event-spaces, art galleries, clothing stores, photo studios and many interesting eateries, such as Pata Pata, Eat Your Heart Out, Soul Souvlaki, Ravioli, Uncle Merv’s and Habesha. It’s a taste of Greece, Ethiopia, Argentina and, of course, South Africa.
Another of my favourite destinations in Maboneng is the popular Living Room – a rooftop bar, health-food cafe and event space filled with lounge music (think ‘Buddha Bar’) and plants everywhere! Plants on your table, plants on the floor and plants on all the walls. This is a popular destination for Saturday afternoon get-togethers and social Sundays with drinks and a DJ on the decks.
Another cool little place to visit is the Bioscope, which shows a range of local and international independent films that often don’t make it to the mainstream screen. So if you are keen for an old classic film or an eye-opening documentary, give this cinema a visit.
Besides the food, bars and retails spaces, Maboneng is also a meeting place for a number of city tours, such as city cycle tours and skateboarding tours, where you explore the history of the city, visit incredible street art sites and indulge in the story of Johannesburg.
If you’re looking for accommodation, there is the 12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel which celebrates the 12 decades history of Johannesburg with each room individually designed to showcase some of South Africa’s most acclaimed artists and designers.
If you’re young and on-the-move, look no further than Curiocity Joburg, which is a modern African hostel for those with a young and adventurous spirit.
Bringing together locals and spiking a whole new international tourist industry, Maboneng is the place to be! See you there 😉
Gauteng Tourism Authority. (2018). Maboneng Precinct. Retrieved from: https://www.gauteng.net/attractions/maboneng_precinct/