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.
Urban decay in the inner city in the 1990s took its toll on the hotel, which shut its doors in 1997 after nearly 25 years of operation and to this day the Carlton Hotel, which sits next to the Carlton Centre, remains empty.
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.
Admission – Top of Africa
Children under 10: R10
Visiting hours – Top of Africa
Open weekdays: 9am – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: 9am – 2pm