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South Africa's notorious Hillbrow neighbourhood catches on with tourists

An aerial view of Johannesburg as seen from the 51st floor of Ponte City tower, in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.   -  
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South Africa

The famous Hillbrow Tower stands at 269 metres (882ft) high and has become a Johannesburg icon in South Africa. The tower used to house a revolving restaurant at its zenith.

The city which has been the focus of many documentaries and books is welcoming tourists.

The inner city of Johannesburg is undergoing a facelift. And Hillbrow is no exception.

It's a huge catch for tourists looking to escape.

"Actually, you know, we just landed in South Africa this morning, and right away we came here and what actually really surprised me was the diversity in what we saw in such a ... so minimum perimeters", said tourist Patrick Castanaer.

As apartheid ended in South Africa, Hillbrow’s middle-class, mostly white residents trooped to the suburbs.

Today, the area has lost its former glory. Crime and gang activity are common.

A local tour company organizes tours to expose people to the vibrancy that Hillbrow offers.

"We're taking you guys through the streets of Hillbrow and showing you everything that you need to know about the neighbourhood. So we're just trying to challenge a little bit of your perception, how you look at the inner city", said Grant Ncobo, a tour guide with Dlala Nje Foundation.

The sights and sounds of the streets are welcoming to tourists. Hillbrow has affordable rents, and so many young professionals flock to the area.

It’s no wonder local tour companies cash in on the adventure they offer to tourists.

Nickolaus Bauer is Co-founder of Dlala Nje. 

"Some people may accuse us of slum tourism or pov erty porn, but to be honest, we're beyond that debate now. We have a proven track record of providing opportunity for the youth in this corner of Johannesburg that is often very misunderstood and we do that by providing these tours. So without the tours, we wouldn't be able to have these community centres downstairs", he said.

The city is home to the Constitution hill, now the site of the South African Constitutional Court.

It is a symbol of hope and democracy. Hillbrow also provides incredible views over the city for tourists to relish.

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