A Quirky, Churchy Tour of Troyeville

by | Jun 24, 2012 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Tours | 10 comments

I saw a lot of churches in Troyeville.

The first Dutch Reformed Church in Johannesburg.

The first Spiritualist Church in South Africa. I love the architecture. If you’d like to learn about the Spiritualist Church, read here. A different congregation meets here now though.

My favorite church in Troyeville, in what looks like an abandoned motel. The Christ Embassy: Giving your life meaning.

Troyeville, a run-down inner-city suburb just up the road from Hillbrow, has more churches per square kilometer than any other place in South Africa. This is one of many fascinating things I learned on a Troyeville walking tour last weekend with Ishvara, one of my favorite Jozi tour guides. (Read about Ishvara’s tours of Little Addis and Diagonal Street.)

This tour was classic Jozi. It was just so…random. Who knew Troyeville, which looks rather bland and sketchy on the surface, was so interesting? By the end of the tour I was ready to move there. The photos speak for themselves.

Our first stop was the Spaza Gallery. I won’t say too much about the Spaza Gallery yet because this place deserves its own post. I often say I’m going to post about things in the future and then never do. This time I really will, I swear. The Spaza Gallery is too cool not to go back to. (The pink-haired lady in the background is my friend Gail.)

The home of anti-apartheid activist David Webster, who was murdered by the apartheid government, right on this step, in 1989. There are many beautiful mosaic murals in Troyeville but this one is the prettiest, I think. Side note: That ANC placard is funny. A “selfless” political party? Come on.

A house where Gandhi lived, in 1904. You might remember that I visited another Gandhi house in Norwood last year, which is now a museum and guest house. The Troyeville house is actually much more historically well known. The house is privately owned and Ishvara isn’t sure who lives there.


Smack-dab in the middle of Troyeville, surrounded by crumbling apartment blocks and graffiti, is a perfectly restored Victorian mansion. It was built by a millionaire who made his fortune in dynamite. The house was later purchased by the Salvation Army and turned into a soup kitchen of sorts. Now it’s owned by an insurance company and not being used for much of anything. The image above is the view from the shower. I want to live there.

First kid I’ve seen on one of Ishvara’s tours. Cool.

Gang of Troyeville kids.

I have two words: Love Jozi.


    • 2summers

      Haha. You’re very famous now.

  1. chuckv88

    I’m using you to find out interesting stuff about Joburg… LOL

    • 2summers

      Nothing wrong with that!

  2. Lisa

    Twas one of the best mornings i’ve had in Joburg so far, having been starved almost of accessing freely such treasures of places. Three words: REALLY love Jozi! 🙂
    Great post Heather.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Lisa. I’m so glad you were able to make it.

  3. ComplexSymmetry

    I’ve been immersed in churches over the last week too, since all the cities seem to have beautiful, monolithic structures. I’m not religious at all, but old churches make me realise how simple it could be to believe in a deity, when a couple of hundred years ago the ability to build places of such beauty must have seemed to need divine intervention.

    SA churches seem like a different breed. Love how quirky they are.

    • 2summers

      Yep, there are tons of interesting churches here, I guess mainly due to the diverse population. And most of them we don’t even see because they are hidden away in abandoned office buildings or apartment blocks. Joburg churches would make a great anthropology project.

  4. Musa mthethwa

    I am looking for a space for a congregation of a membership of 650 around Troyville to rent or to buy for the information please contact me on 0782200075 or 0827121226 it’s urgent please assist us God bless you

    • 2summers

      Hi Musa, sorry I can’t help you. You’ve reached a blogger, not a church.


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