Stepping Inside the Villa Arcadia for Joburg Heritage Weekend

Today, Sept 24th is a public holiday here in South Africa called Heritage Day. This holiday was created in order to celebrate the varied cultures and traditions across the nation. It has also more recently come to be known as National Braai Day (BBQ) but for purposes of this blog post, I am going to stick with the more traditional meaning.

This past weekend the Heritage Portal of Johannesburg organized a series of tours and walks to various heritage sites across the city. This was a great chance to explore some places that are not ordinarily open to the public. Everything sounded really interesting so it was a difficult decision but we decided to do the Villa Arcadia tour on Saturday afternoon.

Villa ArcadiaVilla Arcadia

Villa Arcadia is located in Parktown, high up on a ridge. It was built in 1898 and was originally a Swiss Chalet. It was bought in 1906 by Lionel Phillips and his wife Florence. The chalet was then transformed into the present structure which was designed by Herbert Baker, who was also the architect of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Villa Arcadia DriveDrive up to Villa Arcadia – in a few weeks these Jacaranda trees will be in full bloom.

PeacockPeacock displaying for us. He was so kind to do several 360° turns so everyone could get a nice photo.

Thick wood door

Villa Arcadia Door

The current owner of Villa Arcadia is Hollard Insurance (bought in 2003). While much work has been done to restore the villa, Hollard has also added a more modern touch with the artwork that has been chosen to be displayed inside. At first it seemed a bit out of place to me but I quickly found myself enjoying this style.


Stunning entryway with curved ceilings and Ionic columns


View from Inside the Villa

View from inside the Villa of a more modern hospital

CourtyardWhimsical Courtyard

In 1923, the Villa was sold and became a Jewish Orphanage which was in operation for nearly 8 decades. Many children were brought over from Eastern Europe to be cared for here.

Jewish Orphanage


Our lovely and fascinating guide Janet and the view from the front of the Villa

Courtyard ViewCourtyard view of the not so picturesque hospital


The grandiose veranda running the length of the Villa


Great HallGreat Hall

Modern ArtworkModern Artwork


Diningroom-it is said that the dark wood is calming and helps with digestion

Memoirs of a TouristMemoirs of a Tourist

Upstairs Hall

Upstairs Hall

Sunken BathtubSunken Bathtub-quite unusual

Former bedroomFormer bedroom

View from BalconyView from Balcony

Washing machineBelieved to be a washing machine

VillaView of Villa Arcadia from higher up on the ridge

Before last Saturday, I had never even heard of the Villa Arcadia and I was really glad to have had a chance to discover this fascinating bit of Joburg history thanks to the Heritage Portal. The Portal organises many different events throughout the year so check their website for all their up-to-date information. Happy Heritage Day everyone!

1 thought on “Stepping Inside the Villa Arcadia for Joburg Heritage Weekend

  1. Pingback: Exploring the Heritage Gardens of Upper Houghton | Under an African Sun

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