Monday, February 26, 2007



With the apartheid ended and Mr. Mandela already as President, I visited South Africa for the first time, though I had already been there once, at the Johannesburg Airport on the way to Maputo and back to Lisbon in 1992. This time I flew Lisbon-London-Cape Town-Johannesburg-London-Lisbon, but the stop was only in Cape Town. It actually made sense. In fact, already in 1487, the Portuguese sailor Bartholomew Dias set out to find a sea route to the Far East. Sailing along the west coast of Africa, his ships encountered a ferocious storm, which drove them out to sea and away from the coast. Once the storm had passed they resumed their journey in an easterly direction. After a number of days sailing without any sign of land, they changed direction and headed north, landing at the mouth of the Gouritz River on the east coast of Africa on 3 February 1488. Dias and his crew were the first Europeans on record to round the Cape, and another Portuguese - Antonio de Saldanha - was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it «Table Mountain». The great cross that the Portuguese navigator carved in the rock of Lion's Head is still traceable.

Mother City of Africa, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the oldest city in South Africa, with a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. It also has several of the top national attractions in South Africa. Finally, it's also in Cape Town that the Rainbow Nation justifies its name: Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes as well as the Bantu tribes from the north, all live in City.

"INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL - I stayed many times at Intercontinental hotels, and as a Gold member of their Six Continents Club they used to upgrade me. The Hotel in Cape Town was a good one, and I was given a nice suite"

"THE VIEWS from my Hotel room: from the Table Mountain down to the Sea"

"CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE - The origin of the "Fort de Goede Hoop", built as a result of the constant threat of war between Britain and Holland, dates back to the Dutch merchant Jan van Riebeeck, who landed in Table Bay in 1652. Van Riebeeck immediately started to erect a fort, initially of wood, and from 1666 of stone brought in from Holland. It took about 30 years to complete. Today the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. It has the shape of a pentagon with five corner bulwarks and an almost 10 metre high wall from massive boulders"

"CATHEDRAL - On 21 December 1834 St George's Church opened for divine service. It had no rector, and chaplains conducted the services until Robert Gray, the first Bishop of Cape Town, arrived in his newly-created diocese in 1848. Few cathedrals are completed in a lifetime. There are exceptions such as Coventry Cathedral in England, built within a decade, but others take longer. The Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr in Cape Town is still incomplete: three wars, depressions and recessions have delayed the completion of the vision of its first Bishop to have a cathedral worthy of the Mother City"

"THE OLD TOWN HOUSE was built in 1755 as Cape Town's first public building. It was given a prominent spot on the city's central square and served as Burgher Watch House, Senate and City Hall of Cape Town. In 1914 it became the city's first art museum and it now houses the Michaelis Collection of early Netherlands' art"

"VIEW from the veranda of the Old Town House, on a Saturday morning"

"BO KAAP, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, belongs to the culturally and historically most interesting parts of Cape Town as the traditional residential area of Cape Town's Muslim community. There one can find cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses from the nineteenth century, Muslim shrines ("kramats") and mosques. Most of the residents descend from slaves brought here by the Dutch in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. They are known as "Cape Malays", even though this term is incorrect, as most of them do not descend from Malaysians. The Cape Malays and their religious leaders played an important role in the development of the language and culture of the Cape colony. The Afrikaans language evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch in order for the slaves to be able to communicate with the Dutch and amongst each others, since they all came from different countries and cultures. Educated Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans"

"BO KAAP MUSEUM - One of the oldest of the seventy one houses in Wale Street is the «Bo-Kaap Museum». It is furnished as a Muslim house of the 19th century and documents the history of the so-called Cape Malays. Each year on the 2nd of January the Bo Kaap celebrates a big street party, the «Coon Carnival». It was originally introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year..."

"LONGSTREET - Long Street is one of the oldest streets in Cape Town with a length of 3.8 kilometres. In the older days, it was actually the longest street in the town centre, reaching from the harbour up to Tamboerskloof. Remarkable are the numerous Victorian buildings with cast-iron balcony railings, which have been well restored over the last years. Particularly beautiful is the upper part up to St. Martini Church of the German parish"


angela said...

Such a wealth of material. I love your blog and will be back to read further..
Thanks for the visit and comment.

GMG said...

Hi Angela, Thanks.
There is some more recent material at the Blogtrotter!

Ming_the_Merciless said...

I've never seen pictures of Cape Town before. It looks absolutely charming.

GMG said...

Hi Ming, it's a great town...