Apartheid Sites

If you’re looking to explore the key historical sites of the South African Apartheid and want to find places relevant to Apartheid history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Once you’ve explored the list of  Apartheid sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Apartheid sites.

Our database of historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other South African Apartheid sites, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

South African Apartheid: Site Index

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Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tells the story of South Africa’s apartheid regime and how it eventually fell.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg chronicles the history of apartheid in South Africa and the struggle for human rights which ended this regime of racial segregation.

From 1948, when the National Party came to power, until 1994 South Africa had a series of racially discriminatory laws which oppressed certain races, particularly anybody of non-white descent. People were categorised according to their race and those who were not white were treated as second class citizens. This was the period known as the Apartheid.

Through its twenty-two exhibition areas, comprising original artefacts, information panels and multimedia presentations including films, the Apartheid Museum provides an in-depth insight into life under the apartheid regime. It also looks at the gradual campaign against the apartheid and the struggle for equal rights led by Nelson Mandela, the country’s eventual president.

Photo by derekkeats (cc)

District Six

District Six was a thriving multicultural area in Cape Town, South Africa until it was destroyed by apartheid.

DID YOU KNOW?

District Six, named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867, was a lively, multicultural district made up of artisans, freed slaves, merchants and labourers. However, following the Group Areas Act of 1950, District Six was declared a white area in 1960 and the government forcibly removed 60,000 of its inhabitants to make way for white settlements.

Despite some attempts to build residential areas in its place, most of the area which made up District Six is now empty, standing as a stark reminder of the savagery of apartheid with only grass fields marking its original place.

Those visiting Cape Town can drive past the original site of District Six on the city’s Red Tour Bus system or visit the nearby District Six Museum.

Photo by thomas_sly (cc)

District Six Museum

The District Six Museum is dedicated to the history of District Six, an area destroyed during the Apartheid.

DID YOU KNOW?

The District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa is a museum which serves as an apt memorial to and celebration of District Six, immersing visitors in the lives of its previous inhabitants.

District Six was a thriving community destroyed during the Apartheid. For more information, see the District Six entry. The District Six Museum also offers guided tours of District Six, but these must be booked in advance.

Other exhibitions are located at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre (see the local amenities section for the address), specifically sports exhibitions on local and international football focusing on apartheid and its effects on the sport and the lives of the people that played the beautiful game.

Mvezo

Mvezo was the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mvezo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape was the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and is now an open air museum which forms part of the Nelson Mandela Museum.

Qunu

Qunu was the childhood home of South African leader Nelson Mandela and is part of the Nelson Mandela Museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape was the place where Nelson Mandela spent much of his childhood. Today, it forms part of the Nelson Mandela Museum.

Robben Island

Robben Island was the prison in which Nelson Mandela was held under South Africa’s apartheid regime.

DID YOU KNOW?

Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa was a notorious prison, best known for its internment of political prisoners during South African apartheid. Its most famous prisoner - prisoner 466/64 - was Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist who would later become the country’s president.

Robben Island was used as a prison as far back as the seventeenth century, when the Dutch settled on the mainland. Since then, it has been used as a World War II military base and a nineteenth century hospital for the seriously ill, such as patients with leprosy.

However, whatever its other uses, Robben Island was used as a prison in one measure or another until the twentieth century. Even in its time as a hospital Robben Island was prison-like, its isolation ensuring that diseases could not be spread to the mainland. Furthermore, prisoners were kept here even whilst it housed the hospital.

From 1961, the South African government used Robben Island as a prison, housing many political prisoners.

In all, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost 27 years, many of them at Robben Island, together with many other anti-apartheid activists. Robben Island’s prison closed in 1996.

Today, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage historic site and a museum. A visit to Robben Island is by way of a standardised 3.5 hour guided tour (time includes two 30min ferry rides).

In addition to touring the maximum security prison buildings, the tour includes a 45 minute guided bus ride around the island and interaction with a former Robben Island prisoner. A visit to Robben Island provides a fascinating insight into the island’s history and that of South Africa. It is worth noting however that tours can get fairly crowded.

There are also exhibits at the Nelson Mandela Gateway museum, worth seeing, especially if you can’t make it to the Island.

The Nelson Mandela Museum

The Nelson Mandela Museum tells the story of one of South Africa’s most iconic leaders.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Nelson Mandela Museum at the Bhunga Building chronicles the life of South Africa’s iconic former president and his struggle for democracy and the end of the apartheid regime.

Nelson Mandela was the leader of South Africa’s ant-apartheid movement who was imprisoned by the government for 27 years on charges of treason and went on to become the country’s president. He is famed for his role in ending apartheid and fighting for human rights.

There are actually three locations of the Nelson Mandela Museum in the Eastern Cape, of which the Bhunga Building forms one. At the Bhunga Building, visitors can learn about Nelson Mandela’s past in his own words through extracts of his autobiography, “A Long Walk to Freedom". It also houses gifts given to Nelson Mandela when he was president.

From the Bhunga Building, tours then go onto the other two sites of the Nelson Mandela Museum, Mvezo, where Mandela was born and Qunu, where he spent his childhood.