Joburg’s Diagonal Street – a wonderful clash of culture and time

Downtown Johannesburg. These two words are likely to trigger chills down many people’s spines. Especially if you are a foreigner planning your first trip to this weird and wonderful country affectionately called the Rainbow Nation. Sure, there are areas in the CBD that should be given a wide berth (just as there are in most big cities). But Jozi also has neighborhoods that will give you the most amazing African city experience, and that are perfectly safe (well, as safe as any big city is – don’t leave your common sense at home). It’s in pockets, but these pockets are growing. Mark my words, in 5 to 10 years Jozi is going to be a hip ad happening city destination in its own right. Just remember, you heard it from me first! So many exciting things are happening downtown. I’ve written about a few before (Cyrildene and Constitution Hill), and plan to cover many more going forward. 

Today, I want to take you on a walk down Diagonal Street. Park your car in the Newtown area, where there is plenty of safe parking available, and walk a few blocks to Diagonal Street. Here, you will find a wonderful clash of old and new, in a mesmerising mixture. Visit some of the many muti (traditional medicine) shops and marvel at what is for sale. You won’t know what half of it is, and probably don’t want to either… Purchase wonderful fabric at local prices, and enjoy the bustling streetlife that is happening in front of you. It is no problem to go on your own as a small group, but if you feel nervous about it or want to gain a deeper understanding of the area and its inhabitants, look out for one of the wonderful guided tours by Ishvara from Ancient Secrets.

The museum of man and science - one of the biggest muti shops on Diagonal Street

The museum of man and science – one of the biggest muti shops on Diagonal Street

You probably don't want to know what half of it is...

You probably don’t want to know what half of it is…

Muti can be made from a variety of herbs or animal parts

Muti can be made from a variety of herbs or animal parts

Between 60 - 80% of South Africa's population use muti at some point in their life

Between 60 – 80% of South Africa’s population use muti at some point in their life

Most muti shops on Diagonal Street welcome browsers, but ask before taking photos

Most muti shops on Diagonal Street welcome browsers, but ask before taking photos

Modern muti

Modern muti

The shop offices are almost as fascinating as the shops themselves

The shop offices are almost as fascinating as the shops themselves

Old meets new in downtown Jozi

Old meets new in downtown Jozi

Most fabric shops are owned by Indians. They will offer you the same good price as the local shoppers.

Most fabric shops are owned by Indians. They will offer you the same good price as the local shoppers.

Street cobbler

Street cobbler

You will find traditional South African food, as well as food from many of the immigrant populations in downtown Jozi

You will find traditional South African food, as well as food from many of the immigrant populations in downtown Jozi

No such thing as throwing your phone away if it doesn't work!

No such thing as throwing your phone away if it doesn’t work!

Downtown Jozi has a vibe that must be experienced!

Downtown Jozi has a vibe that must be experienced!

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