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July 17, 2009

Cape Town’s architecture – A Cape Town Tourism photo essay

I am very patriotic and love South Africa, the Western Cape and Cape Town, in particular. My greatest wish is for the preservation of Cape Town’s architecture, culture and environs. May future generations care for the City.

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The Bo-Kaap or Cape Malay Quarter, as it was also known, is culturally and historically one of the most interesting parts of Cape Town. Many of the inhabitants are descendants of Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Indians and Malaysians, who were captured in the 17th and 18th centuries and enslaved by the Dutch East India Company. The Cape Malays have preserved much of their cultural and Muslim identity to this day.

The restored, colourfully painted houses of Bo-Kaap are a synthesis of Cape Dutch and Edwardian architectural styles.

Chiappini Street (pictured above) means a lot to me, as my father was born here in 1907. I have walked this street on a few occasions, wondering what life must have been like here for him as a child and a young man, before he moved from the area when he married my mother in 1930.

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This lighthouse is a well-known and much-loved feature on the promenade in Mouille Point – a small suburb tucked between the V&A Waterfront and Sea Point – and is often used as a landmark when navigating the area. It was declared a national monument in the 1970s and is the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa.

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De Tuynhuys (The Garden House) supposedly had modest beginnings. The earliest known reference to the site is from 1674, the year the Dutch East India Company built a “garden house” to store tools for the Company’s large garden, which was established by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652.

In 1682, De Tuynhuys was converted to a guest house for foreign guests of the Company. It later become the official residence of almost all the Cape’s governors – Dutch, Batavian and British. Since 1961, when South Africa became a republic, De Tuynhuys has been the official residence of South Africa’s state president.

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Built in 1882, the Dock Clock Tower and Tide Gauge House is a national monument at the V&A Waterfront. It was used as the Port Captain’s centre of operations until 1904, when the offices moved across to the Pierhead.

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Four of the eight bronze lions looking out over Cape Town from the Rhodes Memorial. Built in honour of Cecil John Rhodes, the memorial is situated on the slopes of Devil’s Peak.

Do you have images of Cape Town you’d like to share with us? We’d love you to join the Cape Town. Live it. Love it. Flickr group!

Images © Mervyn Hector 2009

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