South Africa: Cape Town – Exploring the city-center

Cape Town is a city on the Atlantic Ocean’s edge with lots of all-day adventures.  There are also a number of locations of significant history in the vicinity of the city center.  These include the Castle of Good Hope, Iziko Slave Lodge, District Six Museum, Signal Hill, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and Bo-Kaap.

The Castle of Good Hope is one the major landmarks of the city.  Currently, it sits in the middle of city, about a mile from the waterfront.  When constructed in the late 1600s, the sea waves lapped at one of the walls.  At that time the Dutch East-India Company (VOC) controlled the Cape before it eventually came under the control of the British.  The fort never saw battle but instead served as a prison and self-contained city.  Now, there is a museum within the walls, and the castle serves as a location for functions.  We were fortunate enough to enjoy a night with the stars above and fire twirling entertainment on the castle walls while meeting many of Bob’s colleagues.

As you come out the main gates of the castle, you spill onto an open plaza where Nelson Mandela gave a speech the day he was released from his years at Robben Island (weather prevented us from visiting that [in]famous site).  This plaza turns into a maze of stalls when markets spring up.  Meandering past the market takes one into the commercial heart of the city.  There are art-deco banks with distinctive reliefs carved into the stone.  Beyond these buildings are some modern structures, but as you walk further along to other side of the commercial district you come to the old Malay Quarter known as Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap is a colorful area full of history and delicious spices & foods. We’ll talk about it more when we discuss our Malay cooking classes in a later post.  Just beyond the neighborhood is Signal Hill which offers stunning vistas of the city center, Table Mountain, Green Point, and the azure waters that surround the city.  It is worth getting up early to enjoy the morning light from above the city.

Coming out of the hills we spent some time down by the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.  This area seems to have recently become more upscale dining area with the option to take a boat out on the waters.  We spent one evening enjoying an outdoor meal of seafood.

Still along the water, but a little further from the city center were Cape Town’s beaches.  What caught our attention was the beautiful promenade along the water.  It seemed like an ideal place to take a morning jog before relaxing at one of the beaches or going for a hike in the mountains – definitely a place to explore the next time we make it to Cape Town.  This time though it just whet our appetite for the ruggedness of the south in Table Mountain National Park and the Cape of Good Hope.  We’ll talk about those areas (and penguins) with the next post, but here are some images of Cape Town to enjoy until then.

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~ by Rob Page III on July 1, 2010.

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