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April 03, 2013

Cape Town’s top five heritage sites

Table Mountain, one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Photo courtesy of Cape Town Tourism

The rich diversity of Cape Town’s natural and cultural heritage is part of the city’s appeal. For those on limited holiday time, here are some top heritage sites to take in...

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is one of the New7Wonders of Nature and an icon for Capetonians and visitors who use the mountain to navigate the city. Take the cable car to the top for 360-degree views of the Mother City, as well as a close-up look at South Africa’s indigenous fynbos flora.

City centre

The city centre, which is a relatively small area and can be covered on foot, is one of the oldest parts of Cape Town. Must-sees here include the Company's Garden and the Castle of Good Hope, as well as the Old Slave Lodge, among the other Iziko Museums that showcase the history of Cape Town and her people.

Greenmarket Square and St George's Mall are also great places to visit, each with its own ambience and history.

Bo-Kaap

The Bo-Kaap is situated on the outskirts of the city. Houses in the Bo-Kaap were given to freed slaves hundreds years ago. The area is now known as the Cape Malay Quarter, and presents bright and colourful homes along Rose, Church and Chiapinni streets, as well as fragrantly spiced Cape Malay food.

In the Bo-Kaap visitors can also visit the Signal Hill noon gun, which has been fired every day at noon since 1902.

Foreshore

Check out the Green Point lighthouse in Mouille Point, the oldest active lighthouse in South Africa, which has been guiding ships since 1824.

The Clock Tower at the V&A Waterfront was completed in 1882 and was used by the port captain to manage harbour activities. It boasts an old tidal-gauge mechanism on the bottom floor (which was used to check the level of the tide), a mirror room on the second floor (which assisted the port captain to keep an eye on activities in the harbour) and a clock mechanism on the top floor, where the original clock is still in use. 

Robben Island

A famed symbol of the incarceration of global icon Nelson Mandela, Robben Island is a ferry ride from the V&A Waterfront. The island's dappled history includes its use as a prison and lime quarry; a training and defence station during World War II; and a hospital for people with leprosy and mental disorders. It is now a museum and World Heritage Site. 

Explore further

Lush and established, the green suburb of Constantia is a few hundred years old and is renowned for its wine and Cape Dutch architecture. Today it’s a culinary and viticultural must-do.

Simon's Town can be found on the tip of the False Bay coast and has been an important naval base and winter anchorage site for many years.

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