Cape Town CBD: Walking Tour

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August 10th 2015
Published: August 10th 2015
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I’ve spent a lot of time in Cape Town over the years, and although I’ve enjoyed plenty of nights out in the city centre, most of my time has been spent enjoying the city’s beautiful beaches, hiking Table Mountain, visiting the wineries or driving the stunning, winding coastal roads. On this visit, however, I decided to explore more of Cape Town’s Central Business District - or the CBD as it’s known.

I planned my route for the day from a number of sources - mainly my trusty lonely planet, tripadvisor and a handy architecture guide I found on some great buildings to check out in the city centre.

I started at the Castle of Good Hope, which you’ll find on the corner of Darling and Buitenkant. Built in 1666 - 79 by the Dutch East India Company as a replenishment station for passing sailors - and it is the oldest colonial building in South Africa. It's part of the Iziko museum group, and you can enter and look around for a fee of ZAR30.

After exploring the castle for a while, I strolled through the grounds along the moat, and headed up the Grand Parade towards the hub of the city centre. Along Grand Parade is a huge square upon which the Old City Hall stands - an impressive, imposing building lined with palm trees. On the square itself you'll find a small collection of market stalls selling goods like beaded jewellery, wooden masks, bowls and hand painted fabric and wall-hangings. There's also a line of small refreshment stands if you need a snack to fuel the rest of your walk.

From here, I continued up Darling Street towards Adderley, pausing along the way to admire some of the stunning buildings that line this route. My personal favourite was the Old Mutual building - now converted into an apartment block, the building was originally built in the 1940s as the headquarters for an insurance company. The Old Mutual - or Mutual Heights as its now known - is a beautiful example of art deco architecture. The windows were a particular highlight, along with the simple art deco light installations in the black onyx and gold leaf that adorned entrance hallway. The sides of the building are carved with scenes and figures depicting various African tribal groups and societies.

After snapping a few photographs of the building, I continued up and turned left on to Adderley Street and headed for one of the city's most fascinating museums, which is housed in the Old Slave Lodge. The house really was used to house the slaves of the Dutch East India company - and the current exhibition focuses on the part of song and music in the struggle against Apartheid. Stories are told through the medium of freedom songs, and interviews with some of the former activists and musicians. It really is worth a visit - I felt I came away with a great deal more knowledge than with which I entered. At the back of the lodge - on Spin Street - I visited the site of the original auction spot upon which slaves would have been bought and sold until the abolition of slavery in 1834.

After all my walking I was pretty tired at this point, so after leaving the lodge I turned left and headed in to the Company's Garden - Cape Town's beautiful city centre park. The park is full of beautiful roses, aloes, towering palms, water features and rolling lawns which are great places to sit and soak up some of the sunshine. The squirrels are especially cheeky and many tourists enjoy feeding them peanuts from the palm of their hands.

I finished my day's stroll with a well-deserved cup of coffee and a delicious koeksister - a traditional South African treat only for those with a very sweet tooth - in the Company's Garden restaurant and enjoyed people watching for the remainder of the sunny afternoon, before heading back to my accommodation for the evening.


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