About Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past and, today, is home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens.
There is perhaps no other site of incarceration in South Africa that imprisoned the sheer number of world-renowned men and women as those held within the walls of the Old Fort, the Women's Jail and Number Four. Nelson Mandela. Mahatma Gandhi. Joe Slovo. Albertina Sisulu. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Fatima Meer. They all served time here. But the precinct also confined tens of thousands of ordinary people during its 100-year history: men and women of all races, creeds, ages and political agendas; the indigenous and the immigrant; the everyman and the elite. In this way, the history of every South African lives here.
Constitution Hill is also a place of contrasts: of injustice and justice, of oppression and liberation. Our precinct is testament to the importance of preserving sites of atrocity for posterity, and also to recreating them so that they can serve the purposes of the present and serve to mould the future.
We offer daily tours of the precinct and conduct regular public events, enabling visitors from every walk of life to interact with our space. There are also a variety of venues on our site available to suit your every eventing need, from small private functions to large corporate conferences.
We invite you to explore our space, to experience it, to feel it. Touch our textured walls, read their graffiti, listen to their echoes, stride up the Great African Steps, stand in the highest court in our land, and learn what constitutionalism means in South Africa.
Constitution Hill is a registered member of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), the International Council of Museums South Africa (ICOM SA), the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and the South African Museums Association (SAMA).
Two Trusts work on the Constitution Hill precinct – the Constitution Hill Trust, which focuses on the Hill as a whole, and the Constitutional Court Trust (CCT), which is dedicated to the court alone. Whilst the two Trusts are proud to work together on carefully selected, specific projects, including the artworks project, they operate entirely independently and fund-raise separately. Specifically, the CCT cannot accept any contributions from local individuals or foundations or corporations. The CCT does not align itself with all of the projects and exhibitions the Hill Trust organises. Importantly, any artwork owned by the CCT on this app or at exhibitions on The Hill will always bear this logo –
The art on display at the Constitutional Court plays an essential role in explaining the function of the court to the visiting public.
Many of the works are powerful metaphors which make visually concrete the legal high stakes that are being debated in the court itself. It can often seem that the discourse in the chamber is abstract or even arcane. This can make the court appear removed from the public it serves, making it vulnerable to accusations of irrelevance, yet the court deals in everyday matters that affect all South Africans, and often visitors to the country.
The court’s beautiful envelope of art is a powerful and valuable public relations buttress, because it so eloquently proclaims what the court stands for.