When one walks down the busy streets of your city, hurriedly to be back in time after lunch or in deep conversation with your fellow pedestrian, you don’t tend to look up and look around. The beauty of graceful, elegant and exquisite architecture is passed by many a day without even a nod of appreciation.
We decided to go for a walk and find beautiful buildings in The Mother City that are worth sharing.
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap is traditionally a multicultural area, rich in history and situated on the slopes of Signal Hill. The romantic cobble stoned streets will guide you into a charming and lively suburb filled with delightful brightly coloured houses from the 17th and 19th centuries. In this neighbourhood you will also find Muslim saint shrines called kramats and gorgeous Mosques – including the Nurul Islam Mosque, founded in 1844. Islam was brought to the Cape in the 1700s.
The residences of Bo-Kaap are descended from African, Indonesian, Malaysian and Asian slaves who were imported by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. They were known as “Cape Malays”, which nowadays is an incorrect term as most of the current residents are not entirely from Malaysian descend. These slaves were political exiles, convicts, skilled craftsmen, artisans, famous scholars and religious leaders. There are still traces of Indonesian vocabulary in this community’s dialect and there are also many words which have also been substituted with Afrikaans.
The character of the iconic little houses emerged during 1790 until 1840. The characteristics are from Dutch and British influence The houses are mainly semi-detached and free standing homes can also be found. The people who settled in Bo-Kaap were craftsmen, free traders and freed slaves. Skills and talents passed down from generation to generation, including the cuisines. The unique Cape Malay Cuisine is delicious and is a combination of Asian, Arabic and European flavours. Few can deny the beauty of the architecture and cuisine of Bo-Kaap.
I’m ashamed to say that it’s been a few years since I’ve re-visited the beautiful South African National Library. Outside is just the shell you’re seeing. Once you step inside, the library is filled with books and character, as if from a movie set or book where you’d expect to find Robert Langdon searching for information on his latest mystery quest.
It has an historic atmosphere and is filled with eclectic historic charm. I love that you can smell the dusted books and you can just tell that it is an old building that has been there for ages, as you sit back imagining all the people that’s past through its doors. The architecture is simple yet detailed at the top which makes this building a vision.
It’s difficult to believe we live in a city soaked in beauty. Plus get to be surrounded by magnificent mountains, breath taking sea views, sunny beaches and amazing heritage buildings. The City Hall is one such stunner! I’ve lived in Cape Town all my life and have always simply walked passed, hurrying to where I need to be, quickly glancing up at the clock for a frenzied time check.
Never before have I stopped to notice the birds swoop down targeting their next bread crumb, as I take in the beauty of one of Cape Town’s gems. No picture would do it justice, so if you ever find yourself around town, and you have nothing to do at lunch, take a walk around and look up every once in a while. You’ll be amazed at what you might see.