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Architecture in Johannesburg

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South Africa
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Carlton Centre
If you want a bird’s-eye view of Johannesburg, the 50-storey Carlton Centre is the place to go. Visitors to the centre can enjoy a panoramic view of the City of Gold from the Top of Africa, as the topmost floor of the building is known: 360 degrees of dense cityscape and outwards towards the countryside and beyond. The tallest building in Africa and once the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the Carlton Centre stands 223m high – about 40m shy of featuring on the world’s top 100 skyscrapers list. However, this feat of architecture makes the centre one of the must-see Johannesburg attractions. Construction was a lengthy process, beginning in 1967 and ending in 1974, although the centre officially opened in 1973. The Carlton Centre complex was once home to the five-star, 30-storey Carlton Hotel, which was prime accommodation in Gauteng and popular with the rich and famous. Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former President of France François Mitterrand, Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and singers Whitney Houston and Mick Jagger count among the hotel’s many famous guests. The Carlton Centre building was bought by state-owned freight company Transnet in 1999 and the upper floors house offices while in the lower floors there is a popular shopping centre. The entrance to the lift which takes you to the Top of Africa viewing deck can be found in the lower levels of the mall.
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Sterkfontein Caves
n the small village of Issiglio, in the Canavese district, lying between the beautiful valley of Chiusella and the main town of that region, Ivrea, Piemonte, on the 6 September 1857 Guglielmo Martinaglia was born. He discover the caves.
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The Melrose House
Melrose House is a charming historical museum that can be found in Jacob Maré Street in the picturesque town of Pretoria. Conveniently perched across from Burger's Park, it is elegant and a remnant of the colonial South Africa of times past.
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Saint Michael's Fortress
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, Säo Miguel fort was built in 1576 by Paulo Dias de Novais who founded the city of Luanda. In 1627, the fort became the administrative colony and was a major outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. With thick walls fitted with cannons, it was a fortified enclosure, and it remained the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Portuguese Army in Angola until 1975. The fort presently houses the National Museum of Military History.
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Stone Town
It may not have a particularly romantic name, but Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. Stone Town was recently and deservedly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
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Mombasa Tusks
Two giant pairs of intersecting tusks located at the entrance of the city, along Moi Avenue forming dual archways over each side of the road. The tusks which form an interesting ‘M’ were made from aluminium in 1952 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s visit.
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Fort Jesus
Designed in the shape of a man and built in 1593 by the Portuguese, Fort Jesus is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
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Lamu Museums
Lamu Museums are located in the North Coast, a World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful & serene locations on the African continent. Museum attractions include the Lamu Museum, Lamu Fort, German Post Office, Swahili House and the Takwa Ruins.
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Old Colonial Houses
These houses were built in Brazillian and British architecture and are mainly in Ebute-Metta, Yaba and Lagos Island.
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Osu Castle
Osu Castle, formerly known as Christiansburg, was built in 1659 and named after King Christian V of Denmark. Throughout its history, the Castle changed hands among foreign competitors several times until the early 1920s.
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Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
This magnificent monument on High Street was erected in honour of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a great Pan-Africanist who led the country to Independence in 1957. T
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Ghana National Museum
It was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent during the Independence celebration in March, 1957. Located on Barnes Road, close to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, the National Museum is the repository of the country’s historical and cultural treasures, as well as artifacts from other ancient African Empires. The collections range from prehistoric, archaeological discoveries to colonial antiquities and exhibits of contemporary African Art.
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Sudan National Museum
Sudanese Museum is one of the main attractions of Sudan. The National Museum of Sudan is the largest museum in Sudan. Located on El Neel Avenue in Khartoum, the museum contains works from different epochs of Sudanese history.
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Khalifa House Museum
The museum is located near The Mahdi’s tomb in Omdurman. The house was built for the successor of the Mahdi. The museum was established in 1928 and contains antiquities of the Mahdist period.
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The cathedral of Asmara
The cathedral of Asmara was build in 1922 in the Lombard-Roma- nesque style. Its tall Gothic bell tower is visible from everywhere in the city and is a useful landmark if you ever lose your sense of di- rection. The cathedral, as well as the primary school, the monaste- ry and the nunnery, are in the same compound and can be visited.
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Temple of Kalabsha
Walk along an imposing stone causeway that leads from the banks of the lake to the first pylon of the temple, pass a colonnaded court and into the eight columned hypostyle hall. Note the hieroglyphs and the reliefs of Greek pharaohs paying homage to Ancient Egyptian deities. Look for Mandulis, the god clad in the vulture feathered cloak. Built during the late Ptolemaic period and completed during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, the Temple of Kalabsha was dedicated to the Nubian god called Mandulis.
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Philae Temple
Philae is dedicated to Isis - the Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility. As a symbolic mother of the king, she appears as a woman with a throne-shaped crown or sometimes depicted with the sign of motherhood and fertility: the two horns and the solar disc between them. Her cult spread over Europe since the Greco-Roman period. The cult of Isis at Philae goes back to the 7th century BC, but the earliest remains date from the 4th century BC. And Isis was being worshipped at Philae until the 6th century AD! By Roman times Isis had become the greatest of all the Egyptian gods, worshipped right across the Roman Empire even as far as Britain.
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Al-Hijaz Railroad
You will witness the true meaning of solidity in the formation and foundation of this railway, which tells the tales and adventures it has experienced. The establishment of the Hijaz railroad was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan.​​
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Dar Al Madinah Urban Museum
It is the first museum specialized in the history and urban and the built heritage of Al Madinah. The museum showcases the Islamic heritage and culture, as well as the city’s magnificent and substantial history since the Prophet’s first arrival in Al Madinah to the present day.
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Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is one of six ancient temples found in the vicinity of Luxor. It was built by Amenophis III for worshipping the gods Amun, Chons and Mut. The Temple of Luxor is placed firmly on the tourist trail in Egypt, attracting many thousands of visitors each year. It is one of six ancient temples in and around the city of Luxor in Upper Egypt, in the area that was once home to the ancient city of Thebes. The temple was initially built for religious rites to the gods Amun, Chons and Mut. One of the most awe-inspiring features at Luxor Temple is it imposing colonnade comprising a total of 14 columns that are topped with papyrus shaped capitals. Each column is roughly 23 meters high, with a circumference of around 10 meters. Both sides on the colonnade are enclosed with masonry walls that are covered with reliefs showing scenes relating to the festival of Opet. The colonnade, along with the decorated walls was completed during the reign of King Tutankhamun and King Horemheb.
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Luxor Museum
The Luxor Museum is nowhere near as big as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but it was never meant to be, choosing instead to display quality rather than quantity. The Museum of Luxor is located more or less right in the centre of Luxor, overlooking the Luxor west bank of the Nile River. Visitors who intend to visit the museum in shouldn’t expect to see anything along the lines of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo because the two places are quite literally worlds apart. While the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo is host to the world’s largest collection of Egyptian antiquities, Luxor Museum only has a relatively small collection, but it’s definitely worth visiting. When the museum was originally opened in 1975 there were no plans to house a massive collection of artefacts. Instead, the museum has a sort of “quality before quantity” policy.
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Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple is actually a vast temple city, with many of its structures dating back 4,000 years. It is today the largest remaining religious site of the ancient world, and it is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Because of its immense popularity, it is featured in many Egypt vacation packages, including many Nile cruise holidays. The temple complex is conveniently located near to the modern-day town of El-Karnak, just 2.5 km from Luxor. The site is massive, to the point where some people feel it’s necessary to spend at least one full day exploring the area. It’s also a good idea to have a guide with you when you visit. As with so many things at Karnak Temple complex, the hypostyle hall is massive, covering an area of 54,000 square feet, and home to no less than 134 huge columns measuring 23 meters in height. It is only when you actually stand inside the hall amongst its forest of columns that you truly get to appreciate just how wealth the New Kingdom had and to what extend Amun was revered.
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Hatshepsut Temple
Queen Hatshepsut Temple is a mortuary temple located near the Valley of the Kings, and it is today considered to be one of the great wonders of Ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut Temple is without question one of the most striking ancient attractions in all of Egypt. In fact, it is one of only a handful of Egyptian attractions that are considered to be “incomparable monuments of Egypt” and many historians also refer to it as being one of the Wonders of Ancient Egypt. Visitors to Luxor in upper Egypt will find this magnificent temple located below the rocky cliffs at Deir El Bahari, just a short distance away from the infamous Valley of the Kings, on the Luxor West Bank of the Nile River. From the moment the temple comes into view, it becomes very obvious that Queen Hatshepsut, an 18th dynasty pharaoh, wanted a temple that was well and truly fit for a queen.
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Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings is without question one of the most historically significant archaeological sites in the world. For roughly 200 years, archaeologists have been exploring the site, and during this time they have discovered 65 ancient tombs, with the latest discovery being made in 2008. The valley is essentially a royal necropolis that was used by the rulers of Egypt for a period of 500 years. Being a “royal necropolis” the area was reserved for the burial of Egypt’s New Kingdom pharaohs and a few lesser nobles. However, not all the tombs were actually used for burial purposes. Instead, several of them simply remained vacant. The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s biggest tourist attractions, with an average of around 5,000 people visiting the site each day. On days when Nile River cruise ships dock in Luxor, the number of tourists can climb to as many as 9,000. It is without doubt one of the most fascinating places in all of Egypt.
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National Museum
One of the top attractions in the Maldives is the National Museum in Malé. Located in the Sultan Park, which was once a part of the site of the 17th century Maldivian Royal Palace compound, the three-story museum was established in the early 1950s with the purpose of preserving the culture and history of the country and instilling patriotism among the people of the Maldives. The museum is home to an extensive collection of historical artifacts that depict the history and rich cultural heritage of the country, ranging from ancient stone objects to fragments of royal antiquities dating back to the Buddhist era and the rule of Islamic monarchs. The National Museum complex is comprised of two large buildings separated by Sultan’s Park in the old palace grounds across from the gold-domed Islamic Centre on Medhu Ziyaarai Magu, also known as Grand Friday Mosque. The National Museum houses a collection of incredible artifacts and relics from the foregone pre-Islamic period era, including ceremonial robes, headgear, thrones, palanquins, royal sunshades and furniture used by Sultans. The museum also exhibits the first printing press used in the country, the rifle used by Mohamed Thakurufaanu in his fight against the Portuguese in the 16th century, and other figures dating from 11th century, excavated from former temples. There is also an impressive display of age-old cannons, broken pieces of Buddhist and Hindu idols, images of political events, stunning lacquer work boxes, and a replica of the pen that was used to sign the ‘Declaration of Independence’ from the British Empire.
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Sultan Park & National Museum
Visit The National Museum, located inside Sultan Park, which is on the island of Male. The park is situated where the Royal Palace once stood. The museum is housed in the only remaining building of the Royal Palace. A comprehensive collection of royal artifacts is on display: among the noteworthy pieces are several thrones, ceremonial parasols, sedan chairs and some boxes with intricate lacquer designs. There are many statues and other pieces gathered from around the country: statues of monkeys, Buddha heads, Bohomala sculptures, divine figurines, etc. The museum building also houses the National Library and an exhibition space that is regularly used to display Maldivian art. Sultan Park is also a symbol of Maldivian history. It once played an integral role in the lives of the local people as a popular leisure park. The scenic lawns featured tropical plants, ponds with lilies and large shady trees but are rarely visited by locals today. Two imposing iron gates grant entrance to the park, opposite the Islamic Centre on Medhuziyaaraiy Magu.
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Mulee Aage Palace
Built-in the year 1906 by Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddeen III, the Mulee’aage Palace is the official residence of the President of the Maldives. Located in front of the Old Friday Mosque in the ward of Henveiru in the historic center of Malé, the shimmering white palace still shines in the same old glory of its earliest years. Construction of the Mulee’aage (meaning the ‘new house of Muli’) was commissioned by Sultan Muhammad Shamsuddeen III for his son and heir Prince Hassan Izzuddin and began in 1914. Erected on the site of Mulee’ge, the ancestral home of Shamsuddeen, the building was constructed in a bungalow-style, a trend that was in fashion during the colonial era in Ceylon. The palace was completed in preparation for the return of Prince Hassan Izzuddin to Male’ in 1920 after he finished his studies at the Royal College of Colombo. Medhu Ziyaaryai (literally translated as ‘Central Tomb’) was a part of the original Mulee’aage building, and today, it is separate from the building and an enclave of Mulee’aage. It houses the tomb of Moroccan scholar Abul Barakat Yousef Al-Berberi, who is believed to have introduced Islam to the nation in 1153
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Mada
Mada’en Saleh, also known as Al Hijr, is a series sandstone outcrop of various sizes and heights surrounded by a ring sand mountains. It is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia.
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Pyramid of Djoser
Built as a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser (or Zoser), the Djoser Pyramid was constructed between 2630 BC and 2611 BC in Saqqara, Egypt. Although it is considered the world’s oldest intact large-scale stone monument, the ancient structure is often overshadowed by Egypt’s most famous pyramids. The Djoser Pyramid stands 197 feet high and was built using 11.6 million cubic feet of stone and clay. Imhotep—a doctor, priest, and sculptor, among other titles and talents—is widely attributed as the pyramid’s architect. Initially, the structure was designed as a traditional, flat-roofed tomb called a mastaba, but Djoser wanted something bigger, something grander. The pyramid was part of a larger 40-acre complex containing a courtyard, temples, and chapels, all enclosed inside a 30-foot wall. The entrance to the complex, as well as 13 fake doors, is built into the wall. The complex also includes a number of building facades, all of which served ritual purposes. The pharaoh’s burial chambers are located deep within the pyramid, along with those of his 11 daughters. The burial chamber is part of the pyramid’s winding, maze-like series of tunnels, which researchers think may have been designed to prevent theft (although the pyramid was eventually looted).
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Al Zubarah
Located on Qatar’s north-west coast and comprising the immaculately restored Al Zubarah Fort and surrounding 60-hectare archaeological works, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most extensive and best preserved examples of an 18th–19th century settlement in the region.
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The Mosque of Muhammad Ali
Located on Rhoda Island in Cairo’s Manial district, the Prince Mohammed Ali Palace is unlike any historical site in the capital. Built by the uncle of King Farouk, Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik, between 1899 and 1929, what makes the palace stand out – even next to anything you’ll find in Old Cairo, which sits a stone’s throw away across a branch of the Nile – is its unique fusion of Ottoman, Persian, art nouveau and late baroque inspirations. Divided into five distinctly conceived and designed buildings which sit in the middle of a stunning Persian garden, the palace was as much a home to Mohammed Ali’s grand collection of art, furniture, clothing and medieval manuscripts as it was for him. Lending itself to a museum blueprint, the palace was handed over to the Supreme Council of Antiquities – a former branch of the Ministry of Culture – in 1955 and quickly became one of the most striking reminders of the Mohammed Ali dynasty. The palace is also home to one of the world’s most lavish collections of Oriental carpets and rugs, while the walls silk embroideries and portraits of royals.
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Cairo Citadel
As familiar and known a sight as that of the Giza Pyramids, the medieval Citadel sits conspicuously over the haze of Cairo’s minarets, with the Mohammed Ali mosque glimmering like a beacon to all travellers, visitors and Cairenes alike. The gentle breeze from the hilltop location brings to mind a legend about Saladin, the builder of this medieval fortress in the 12th century. In the search to build a proper fortress against the Crusaders, he hung pieces of meat throughout Cairo and swore that wherever the meat stayed fresh the longest would become the location of his fortress. All the meat he placed was ruined in a day except for the meat hung on a hilltop near Cairo, where the fresh breeze kept the meat fresh for days. Who knows? Maybe he built the Citadel on a hill because in his native mountainous Syria most fortresses were built in strategic high locations, or maybe fresh meat was a big deal to Saladin. The Citadel is a popular destination for tour groups and local school field trips. While most tourists are taken to the Hagia Sophia inspired Mohammed Ali mosque, they might miss the great sites that lie nearby, marking massacres, harem palaces, spiral wells, royal court drama, crime, and ancient Egyptian ruins.
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St.Samaan Church
It’s become something of a cliché – a sad one at that – but we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s much more to Egypt than Ancient Egyptian antiquities. Granted, the Zabaleen area of Mokattam receives its fare share of attention for its sheer uniqueness, but one particular feature often goes unnoticed – St. Samaan Church. The church is named after Samaan Al Kharaz (Simon the Ranner), who, according to the tradition, performed a miracle in moving the mountain to help Abraam – Pope of the Egyptian Church – prove his faith to a Jewish grand vizier. The areas of the mountain around the church also feature a number of carvings. These carvings were done by a Polish artist in 1995 and was commissioned by the church’s founder, Samaan Ibrahim. In addition to the church itself – which can seat up to 1000 people – the monastery also include a library, children’s playground and a cafeteria.
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City of the Dead
Even Cairo, a bustling capital city of 21 million or so people, has its secrets and obscurities, not least the City of the Dead. Located below Mokattam Hills in the south east of the city, the area is essentially a necropolis; but over the centuries it has evolved into a living, breathing organism of its own that has managed to reach a certain degree of self-sufficiency. Though considered a slum – and it’d be hard to argue that – it also stands as one monument to Cairo’s colourful history. Running along the city from north to south, the strip is around 6.4km long. The City of the Dead dates back to the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, when Amr Ibn Al ‘as established a family graveyard at the foot of Mokattam. Many of the residents are said to have moved there to be close to deceased relatives. It has been something of a touristic site for centuries, with the likes of Moroccan scholar, Ibn Batuta –widely considered to be one of the greatest travelers in history – having visited and written about it.
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Qasr Al Watan
Qasr Al Watan, the new cultural landmark in Abu Dhabi, opens its doors to the public in an invitation to discover the legacy of knowledge and tradition that have shaped the journey of the nation, boosting cultural understanding of the United Arab Emirates. More than a traditional palace, Qasr Al Watan is an exquisitely crafted tribute to the Arabian heritage and artistry, and its architecture and design echo the significance of the exhibits housed within its halls and the function of its most iconic rooms. Qasr Al Watan invites visitors to learn about the country’s governing traditions and values, and explore a well-preserved legacy of knowledge, thus boosting cultural understanding of the UAE.
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Etihad Towers
A dramatic architectural statement, this five-tower complex invites residents and visitors to live, work, stay, shop and dine in one destination with panoramic city and Arabian Gulf views. A benchmark for luxury experiences, the complex includes three residential towers and the 280 metres high, five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel. On Tower 2’s 74th floor, the Observation Deck at 300 offers unbeatable cityscape and island views. The Avenue at Etihad Towers is one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive collections of boutique shops, with many having luxurious private rooms for private, VIP shopping.
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