The Inner City Of Johannesburg – Troyeville & Maboneng Precinct

Many of my friends in Johannesburg will agree with me that the inner city of Joburg is one of the most fascinating places in the city.

Whether it’s a day of weekend shopping at the Market on Main, a visit to the Collectors Treasury, the largest bookstore in the Southern Hemisphere, or just a night out Painting With Light, the inner city has lots of interesting bits and exciting spots.

It’s not easy to venture into this part of the city as a foreigner, because we all arrived with the notion that this is the area to avoid. There are heaps of horror stories and the place looks scarily dodgey as compared to the posh areas of Sandton and Fourways.

This week, I ventured into the inner city by myself (i.e. without the hubby) for the very first time. And I was able to do it because I joined a walking tour led by Past Experiences. This was a walking tour led by two girls, Jo and Tania. They are hardcore Joburgers who love the city so much that they decided to start a business to take people to see it.

Although two extra girls as our tour guides didn’t exactly make it seem much safer, their knowledge and confidence walking the streets gave me heaps of courage to walk and enjoy the city as we saw it.

It was fortunate that the City of Gold Festival was ongoing at that moment. Street art and graffiti was being celebrated all over the inner city.

Jo and Tania not only led our small group to see some amazing art (see my post earlier with shots taken with iPhone here), they also explained in great detail the stories behind the art and the history and background of the artists and their work.

What would be deemed as vandalism in the country I’m from is regarded as highly valued street art in this part of the world.

I learnt to appreciate the different styles of the graffiti artists and began to recognise some of the work as we moved along the streets. This drawing below was created by a guy named Rasty. His work was all over the city.

I also learnt the difference between graffiti and street art. Graffiti was a form of free expression, while street art was mainly stenciled prints. The artists would create a stencil and imprint the artwork on everything and anything in the city with it, using a can of spray paint.

It was extremely fascinating to appreciate the art that’s been scattered on the walls. Some artists had painted illegally, while some were commissioned by the local authorities or property owners to “decorate” the walls. And those random scribbles that looked like people had vandalised the walls were in fact tags. Tagging is a popular street art culture, where various popular street artists would imprint their signature next to a piece of art done by someone else.

I spent the first day of the walk in the Maboneng Precinct and Troyeville, which were small suburbs full of fascinating corners. People were friendly and interesting shops lined the streets.

At one corner, lady luck shone on us and we bumped into Rasty! The artist himself was right there painting away!

We stood there watching him and his friends paint for a long time. I was soooo impressed. He was painting free hand with just a can of spray paint. This was serious talent.

I was so star struck that I was grinning like a school girl when he agreed to have his picture taken with me. Woohoo!

Photo credit: Rashida Mangera

It was such an incredible day that I went on another similar walk the next day. More about that later.

If you are friends with me in Facebook (add me HERE), you would know that I had started my day on Tuesday feeling really down. Having the opportunity to do something like this and seeing all that amazing art, AND meeting the artists made me feel like a blessing was bestowed on me right after the rough morning I had earlier. *happy*

Here’s a selection of the shots I took. Click on the thumbnails to view the pictures.













Past Experiences does a variety of street tours and are especially great for their inner city tours. Both the guides, Jo and Tania are full of fun and energy and they are very knowledgeable. Tours start from R50 per person per tour. Contact them at their website or at




  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog, great stuff, jo’burg inner city is really scary(so I keep hearing atleast). I showed it to a couple of my (white) class mates (friends), at varsity (wits), who would never in a million years go further than 2 footsteps outside wits gates (for supposedly ‘fear of my life’). This shows that even though its as you say ‘shabby looking’ the inner city is in no way the “crime infested, bullets flying all over the place, rape capital of the world” that a lot of media try to depict it as. Things like this (your blog) will only help even out the many false images that are being portrayed of our beloved city (yes some of us do love it here, would you believe). Great stuff indeed!

    • Thanks for your note, Khotso! It’s certainly not as scary as the media has made it out to be, but still a place where I’m very careful at, especially since I’m an Asian female with huge camera equipment on these streets. =p But yes, some of us definitely do love it here. And that includes me. =)

  2. “Good Luck” is by Faith47 (Cape Town based artist) who, as Rasty, are recognized internationally as fine artists, they also both featured on the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 list of the most influential young South Africans – To see the power of Faith’s work go here –
    – The red mural is in Jozi

    • Love this video. Thanks for sharing! Where’s this red wall? Hillbrow?

      Do you know if it was a commissioned painting?

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