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Nelson Mandela Bridge


In a country of profound historical and physical divisions, wedged deeper by apartheid legislation such as the Group Areas Act, the bridge as a concept is powerful. Completed in 2003, Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg has become an iconic addition to the city’s already commanding skyline, and serves as an emotive representation of the former South African president and freedom fighter’s dedication to bridging the divide in a country broken from decades of oppressive rule. It’s fitting that Nelson Mandela himself officially opened the strikingly designed bridge – at 248m long and 42m high at its north pylon, the largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa - which symbolically connects the old with the new. The bridge marked the beginning of the rejuvenation of downtown Joburg, linking the Newtown Cultural Precinct (location of the Market Theatre, Mary Fitzgerald Square and Museum Africa) with Braamfontein, home to Constitutional Hill, Wits University and the Civic Theatre. Designed by architectural firm Dissing and Weitling, the bridge is considered a feat of engineering, a lightweight structure spanning 42 railway lines, and adds a distinctive modern element to the increasingly vibrant inner city. Not only reserved for motorists, pedestrians too can enjoy the spectacular urban views, while at night the structure becomes a dramatic feature against the dark sky when illuminated in a rainbow of colourful lights.