Overlooking an elevated ridge north of Johannesburg, the Old Fort Prison was built in 1893 as a high security prison to intimidate uitlanders (foreigners). Over time, it was used as a military fort and place of punishment, confinement and abuse. Virtually every important political leader in South African history, as well as scores of ordinary citizens caught in the web of colonial and apartheid repression and racism, have been incarcerated in the Old Fort buildings. The stone walls tell stories of an iniquitous political system, a brutal penal institution, state terrorism, and the resilience of generations of prisoners.
In 1995, the South African judges selected the prison complex as the site for the new Constitutional Court. Through the old prison buildings and the new Constitutional Court, this unique site provides a stark juxtaposition of past abuses with hope and enlightenment for the future.
Constitution Hill’s mission is to root the values of the South African Constitution and the issues they raise at Constitution Hill; to use heritage, education and tourism as the medium to render the values and issues physical – living, vibrant and interactive; actively contribute to urban regeneration through the revitalization of an important component of the Inner City of Johannesburg; and to promote a civil society by encouraging civic responsibility and popular participation in the process of democracy through the programs which are offered.Home »