Your 5 minute briefing on everything there is to know about THe most southern city in africa

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa and other than being the capital of the Western Cape Province, it also acts as the legislative capital of South Africa). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope, and is the most southern city in Africa.

It is widely described as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Nestling in a natural bowl between the vast Atlantic Ocean and the city’s picturesque Table Mountain, Cape Town is a combination of historical coastal charm and urbane sophistication.

Some of its more famous landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island (where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Unique architecture, a charming inner city vibe and lively nightlife, coupled with a fascinating mix of Cape Malay, African and other cultures, add to the city’s unique, alluring appeal. Cape Town really is the quintessential melting pot: it is a city alive with creativity, colour, sounds and tastes.

While walking through the city’s streets and meeting its people, you will fall in love with its natural beauty, creative freedom and incredible spirit. Cape Town is a city where the unexpected is always just around the corner and the beautiful province of the Western Cape lies ready to be explored across the city border

Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a victualling (supply) station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa. Today it is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa. As of 2011 the metropolitan region had an estimated population of 3.74 million

The city was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

A city as vibrant as Cape Town is bound to have a few interesting nicknames. “Tavern of the Seas” is one of these, as Cape Town was the relax-and-refresh hub where weary sailors would gather after being at sea for months on end

The Mother City is an affectionate nickname, which is widely known and used among locals and visitors to Cape Town alike. There are a number of suggested reasons why Cape Town is called the Mother City, and the most commonly offered explanation is as follows, in the words of Selwyn Davidowitz, an accredited Cape Town tour guide/operator:

“In the 1930’s some unknown party wrote to the local cape Town newspaper claiming that Cape Town was the only city in South Africa that could justly call itself a metropolis. The public took to this description and because the word metropolis is derived from the Greek derivation of meter or metros meaning mother and polis meaning city, the nickname of “Mother City” was born. Hence today we know our wonderful city as being the Mother City.”

Main Attractions

Bo-Kaap

Category: Points of Interest,
Museums

This neighbourhood, located on a hill south-west of downtown, is the area historically inhabited by mainly Muslim descendants of slaves from South-East Asia (hence an older term for the area – ‘Malay Quarter’. It’s a common location for film shoots, as there are some very colourful buildings, quaint streets, mosques, views over Cape Town and some great food sold on the side of the street. It’s well worth wandering around for an hour or so, as well as visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum (a view of a prosperous Muslim family from the 19th Century). Atlas Trading is and old fashioned shop where you can buy spices for any dish. Ask the proprietor to mix you the necessary spice for the meal you intend to make. Approximately 1km from the Bo-Kaap, is the Noon Gun which is fired every day at noon – from Monday to Saturday. You can go and view the short ceremony that takes place before the actual shooting as well as the shooting itself.

The Castle of Good Hope

Category: Landmarks

The Castle of Good Hope on Buitenkant Street is South Africa’s oldest surviving building. It was built between 1666 and 1679. It is popularly called ‘The Castle’ by locals. It has extensive displays of historical military paraphernalia, a history of the castle, an art collection and the William Fehr Collection (including old Cape Dutch furniture).You can eat and buy wine inside the Castle at the restaurant or café.

Robben Island

Category: History

Located just off the coast from Cape Town, this was the location used during the apartheid days to hold political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu. The island itself is quite scenic, and African penguins can be spotted while on tour.

District Six Museum

Category: Museum

District Six is an area near downtown Cape Town which remained multiracial well into the 1960s against all attempts by the government to declare it a “white only” area. The residents were all evicted and the buildings destroyed. It remains uninhabited. The museum provides information about the area, the eviction, and the people who used to live there.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Category: Landmarks

A huge shopping and entertainment area at the slopes of Table Mountain, next to the harbour. It is very popular with tourists, because of the high density of shops, restaurants and amusement possibilities, like the Aquarium or the Marine Museum. Harbour tours and trips to Robben Island start from here, as well as helicopter flights to the Cape Peninsula.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Category: Gardens

View the hugely diverse and beautiful plants and flowers of the Cape flora in one of the most stunning botanical gardens in the world. Plants from all of the regions of South Africa are on display, including rare succulents from the Richtersveld, a giant baobab tree, and interesting medicinal plants. Numerous paths wander through the grounds situated on the back side of Table Mountain. At various times of the year concerts are performed in the open air amphitheatre. Art is frequently on display, including large Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. The gardens are also home to the National Biodiversity Institute. During the summer months, sunset concerts feature excellent local and international music acts in diverse genres. Get there early to get a good spot on the grass amphitheatre. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, local rock bands, and popular artists like Freshlyground and Goldfish.