Bo-Kaap and De Waterkant
Known for its brightly coloured houses and situated at the foot of Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap is the spiritual home of the Cape’s Muslim community.
Follow Wale Street until you get to brightly painted Georgian terraces and narrow cobbled streets – now you’re in the Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town’s most colourful suburbs.
Bo-Kaap has a fascinating history. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The slaves were known as “Cape Malays” (which is not essentially true as most of the residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent). However the term has stuck and Bo-Kaap is also known today as the Cape Malay Quarter.
The best place to discover the history of the area is the quaint Bo-Kaap Museum (+27 21 481 3939). It’s open from 10h00 to 17h00 from Monday to Saturday. Tickets cost R10 for adults, R5 for students and pensioners and children aged 16 and under may visit free of charge.
The museum building dates back to the 1760s and is the oldest house in the area that is still in its original form. The main focus is the contribution made by early Muslim settlers, and the house depicts a recreation of the life of a typical Malay family.
Head towards Dorp Street and you’ll find the Auwal, South Africa’s first official mosque. This historic building was founded in 1797 by the influential Imam Abdulla ibn Abd al Salaam, a well-known Muslim scholar and activist.
One thing you simply have to do when visiting Bo-Kaap is to have a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the restaurants. Spices are heady and recipes date back centuries.
Next to Bo-Kaap you’ll find De Waterkant. This trendy area has become one of the most sought-after addresses in Cape Town. Many of the old 19th-century homes have been transformed to create a village feel reminiscent of London’s Soho and New York’s Greenwich Village.
There are numerous art galleries and restaurants and the area is popular with fashionistas from around the globe. It’s also a favourite haunt of the local gay community.
Did you know?
Many of the Bo-Kaap residents are descendants of the slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Phone: +27 21 487 6800
- Physical Address: 1 Loader Street, De Waterkant
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