After our first outing with Ishvara of Ancient Secrets for his Troyeville Walk, we needed no further convincing to sign up for the next scheduled visit to Jeppestown. Jeppestown is said to be Johannesburg’s oldest suburb, having been established around 1889 by Julius Jeppe. The neighborhood lies just to the east of the CBD (Central Business District) and is a fascinating historical and cultural blend.
Our walk commenced at the House of Baobab restaurant in the Maboneng Precinct with coffee and a sweet Tanzanian doughnut-like treat called Mandazi. The group then headed off into the heart of Jeppestown for the next 3+ hours lead by the captivating Ishvara Dhyan. Ishvara’s knowledge of the area is extraordinary and it would be impossible for me to share all the details here so for this blog post I am mainly going to focus on some photos with the hope that they may inspire you to take one of these tours yourself.
Mentis Buildings-Art Nouveau. Currently being used as private residences.
Jewish Building on Betty Street
Jooste & Bryant’s Building completed in 1906. A mix of Victorian and Edwardian styles.
Traditional Herbalist Store. All sorts of interesting things here to attempt to cure your woes.
Jeppestown looking towards the CBD
The restaurant in the film Long Walk to Freedom is at the top of this building but is now mainly storage. Downstairs is a sweet shop (see next photo).
Lots of Colorful Sweets
Jeppestown buildings often have very ornate roof trims
The Jozi Shopping Mall is not your ordinary shopping mall. Most of the shops are Somali-owned and have previously suffered from xenophobic attacks. As a result of this, many of the stores contain bars on the windows to help protect the vendors.
Jozi Shopping Mall
Shop in Jozi Shopping Mall with iron bars
Jozi Shopping Mall
Osborne Pharmacy-mostly Victorian architecture
Jeppestown can easily be described as a bit gritty, and that is one of the main reasons I found it so intriguing. At almost every step I found a photo just waiting to be taken (and I took lots and lots). There is quite an abundance of artistic graffiti lining the streets adding much color to the neighborhood.
Street in Jeppestown
I’d guess this rather unattractive building is 1960-1970’s style, whatever that is
More colorful graffiti
We had the opportunity to visit the inside of St Mary’s The Less Anglican Church. It is thought to be the oldest building in Johannesburg and services are still being held there.
St Mary’s The Less Anglican Church
St Mary’s The Less Anglican Church Alter
A lady working at the church offered to open and show us their magnificent organ. Unfortunately no one in the group knew how to play.
Across from the church there was a park where people also gather (many in long, white ropes) to worship. A nervous goat was tied to a nearby tree, however we did not stay long enough to learn his fate.
Church in the Park
Goat tied to a tree
Building next to the park
View through Iron Bars
Colorful Homes in Jeppestown
We were able to tour the inside of the Salisbury House which is now occupied by the School of Practical Philosophy. Classes in philosophy and meditation are regularly held here and renovations are still ongoing to this stunning building.
Directly across from the Salisburg House is the St James Preparatory School. Students here engage in a less-traditional form of education in which the focus is on developing the mind, body and spirit.
St James Preparatory School
St James Preparatory School Classroom
Tuck Shop-an African version of a 7-11
We were also able to enter the former Jeppestown Synagogue. The Synagogue was in operation from 1926-2002 but has been bought and now functions as a church.
Former Jeppestown Synagogue
Former Jeppestown Synagogue
In 2006, Jeppestown was the site of what is dubbed as the Jeppestown Massacre. Following a major armed robbery, 23 robbers fled to a safe house( pictured below). In the resulting siege, 4 police officers and 8 suspects were killed before the remaining 15 suspects surrendered.
Site of the Jeppestown Massacre
Market Outside Jeppe Rail Station
Grand Station Hotel-used to house miners that came to Joburg for work
Taxi Drivers. On the road, they drive me crazy with their driving antics but these guys were super friendly and begged me to take their photo.
Jeppestown Street View
Our tour of Jeppestown ended where it had begun at the House of Baobab restaurant. Awaiting our return was an African buffet lunch (optional, not included in tour price) and we eagerly attacked the buffet table. The dishes are mostly West African but there was some East African inspiration as well. As a vegetarian, I was spoiled for choice with the veg dishes. This was seriously some of the best African food I have had here in Jozi and I cannot wait to return (depending on the day there is sometimes a menu and sometimes a buffet). I also have to give props for the excellent, friendly service here, a really great job by everyone we encountered.
House of Baobab
If you are interested in history and culture, and want to learn more about some of Jozi’s less-touristy neighborhoods, I cannot recommend Ishvara and Ancient Secrets enough. Ishvara is a fantastic storyteller and brings such an incredible amount of knowledge to his tours that you will be sure leave the tour with a new appreciation of the featured neighborhood. We look forward to many more walks with Ancient Secrets, hope to see you on one sometime soon.