Monday December 13, city tour with our guide Chris Spanneberg.
First stop Table Mountain, it has recently been named one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and is a World Heritage Site. Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking Cape Town. Cable cars have been going to the summit since 1929. There are also hiking trails to the mountain top.
Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town’s party beach with its white sand edged by a walkway full of restaurants, clubs and hotels.
Next stop, a section of the city at the bottom of Signal Hill, hill known as Bo-Kaap. Formally known as the Malay Quarters. In the 1760’s these houses were leased to slaves. The slaves were known as Cape Malays as they were slaves brought from Malaysia, Indonesia as well as other parts of Africa to work in the Cape. The houses were all white, situated on the hilly cobblestone streets. Some streets are still the original stone. When slaves were allowed to purchase their houses, they were painted in bright colors as an expression of freedom. Many families living there now have been there for generations.
The Castle of Good Hope is a stronghold fort built in the 17th century. It used to be located on the coastline, but now due to reclamation, it is far from the waterfront. The castle was built by the Dutch East India Company, as a stopping place for ships coming from Europe to East Asia, so they could maintain their monopoly on the Spice Trade.
The firing of the signal cannon was used to alert those inside the fort that a ship had been sighted at sea. To this day, every day except Sunday and public holidays, the 1800’s signal cannon is fired at 12 noon. The cannon is located atop Signal Hill, at the South African Navy’s Lion Battery. The echo can be heard across the city.
City Hall, built in 1905, it is now used as a venue for cultural and social events, also it is home of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. On the balcony there is a Statue of Nelson Mandela, where on February 11, 1990, after he was released from prison, he gave a speech to unite the country and end help apartheid. The speech had a worldwide television audience. After 4 years of negotiations apartheid ended in 1994. City offices are now located at the Cape Town Civic Center.
The Company’s Garden is a historic urban park near the city center of Cape Town. First built as a replenishment station for the trade route between Europe and the east. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company, after months at sea would stock-up on fresh produce grown in the garden, giving it the the name “The Company’s Garden”. Today the area is has tree lined paths with benches in a botanical setting.
The Houses of Parliament. Cape Town is home to South Africa’s Parliament, it is the legislative capital. The government seat or administration is located in Pretoria. Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. South Africa has three capital cities.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden established in 1913, is one of 11 National Botanical Gardens all under the direction of the South African Biodiversity Institute. The botanical garden is dedicated to the cultivation and study of indigenous plants of South Africa. Located on the eastern slope of Table Mountain, the estate includes a horticultural garden including many rare and endangered species, theme gardens and a nature reserve.
In the middle of the garden is a Tree Canopy Walkway that snakes over trees and has panoramic views. Within the garden is an amphitheater with lawn seating for performances. There is a plethora of natural texture throughout the gardens.