The glimmer from the City of Gold

January 09, 2019

Have you heard about Egoli, or the City of Gold? When talking about Johannesburg, there’s bound to be a mention of gold somewhere in the conversation.

So where does Joburg’s golden nickname come from? There are a number of reasons – some factual and historical, some visual and metaphorical.


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Here’s what you need to know about Joburg’s golden sheen:

The great Jozi gold rush

It all started in 1884 when gold was discovered on a farm. Two years later, in 1886, a full-blown gold rush started and the mining settlement grew to 100 000 inhabitants in just 10 years. Fast-forward to today, and that land has become the metropolis we now know as Johannesburg. The Witwatersrand gold rush was one of the largest the world has ever seen, with fortune-seekers arriving in their droves. Interestingly, the then-government did not believe the gold would last long, and mapped out the city on a small patch of land and crammed in as many buildings as possible. This is why today, Joburg has such narrow inner-city streets.


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The golden vein known as the “golden arc” stretches from Johannesburg to Welkom in the Free State, and covers a large portion of Gauteng. Driving through the province, you’ll observe gold mines that are still in operation and can be seen from the major highways.

Visit the Johannesburg Mining Museum to learn more about Johannesburg’s fascinating history. While there, visit the Gold Reef City theme park for a mining-inspired adventure.

The heart of the economy

An extended effect from the gold rush is that Johannesburg is now one of the largest business hubs in South Africa. It is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the oldest and largest exchange in Africa. In addition, a number of large international and local companies are based in the city, and many young South Africans travel there with an eye to making their fortunes.


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Kicking off a new type of gold rush, today Joburg continues to offer opportunity, jobs and possible wealth.

A sight to remember

Another, slightly more metaphorical reason Joburg is called the City of Gold is due to the golden shimmer that’s cast over its glass-clad buildings at sunset. Looking down on the city at night, you may imagine the thousands of lights below teasing up an image of gold buried beneath the surface.


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Visit one of the multiple restaurants and bars housed in high-rise buildings to enjoy this glimmering view over sundowners. The San Deck at the Sandton Sun Hotel is the place to go for rooftop views of the sprawling Sandton skyline and that spectacular Jozi sunset – not to mention the classic cocktails.

More fantastic sundowner views of Johannesburg come courtesy of the stylish Skye Bar on the ninth floor of the Holiday Inn Sandton, which offers an extensive cocktail and drinks menu. If you’re looking for a decadent dinner alongside a stunning view, visit Marble in Rosebank.

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