Visiting the Colorful Neighborhood of Bo-Kaap


Bo-Kaap is a vibrant neighborhood situated at the foot of Signal Hill that has preserved a distinctive identity over centuries of change. It is one of the most visited places in Cape Town not only for its colorful picturesque terraced houses and steep cobbled streets but also for its invaluable historical and heritage value.

The houses in the streets of Bo-Kaap are a mixture of Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian architectural styles combined with the Islamic faith, culture and eastern origin of the majority of its inhabitants. Many of the families in the Bo-Kaap have been living there for generations. The residents are mostly descendants of the slaves who were imported by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to work in the Cape.

Bo-Kaap Brief History

bo-kaap brief history

Bo-Kaap is one of the oldest urban residential areas in Cape Town. Its long history dates back to 1760s when Jan de Waal built several small “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) on this land, which he rented out to his slaves. This earliest development in the Bo-Kaap area became known as Waalendorp,

This neighborhood was formerly known as the Malay Quarter because its residents were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia, other parts of Asia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape as slaves. They were convicts, slaves, political exiles, skilled craftsmen, artisans, famous scholars and religious leaders. And because a majority of them were East Indies who came from the Malay Archipelago, they became known as the Cape Malays.

When the slaves were freed in 1834, the need for modest houses arose which prompted the property developers to build many “huurhuisjes”. Many Muslims then moved to the new parts of Bo-Kaap.

The bright colorful houses of today are said to be attributed to the fact that while on the lease, all the houses had to be white. So, when the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, all the houses were painted bright colors by their owners as an expression of their freedom.

The Bo-Kaap Museum

bo-kaap museum

The Bo-Kaap Museum is the last remnant of Waalendorp. It is housed in the oldest still standing building in Wale Street. The museum is the place to find out about resident Islamic community, its history and culture. The building was restored in the 1970s and opened in 1978 as a satellite of the SA Cultural History Museum and was furnished as a house that depicts the lifestyle of a nineteenth-century Muslim family.

The museum falls under the Iziko group of Cape museums and is in the process of transformation into a social history museum.

Cape Town’s Muslim Community

bo-kaap mosque

Although the Bo-Kaap has over centuries been home to people of various origins and religions, it has been … Read the rest

The Wretched History of Robben Island


Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, just 6.9 kilometers west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for “seal island.” When the Dutch arrived in the area in 1652, the only large animals on the island were seals and birds which is probably the reason why it was named Robben Island. The island is actually the peak of a mountain which was once part of the mainland. The rest of the mountain just happens to be underwater these days.

The symbolic value of Robben Island lies in its rich and wretched history. Robben Island was used at various times between the 17th and 20th centuries as a prison, a hospital for lepers and a military base. Its buildings, particularly those of the late 20th century such as the maximum security prison for political prisoners, witness the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.

Robben Island

Brief History

The Dutch settlers were the first to use Robben Island as a prison. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch sent political prisoners which were political leaders from various Dutch colonies, including Indonesia, and the leader of the mutiny on the slave ship Meermin. Its first prisoner was probably Autshumato in the mid-17th century. But the most famous prisoner on the island is the South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island.  South African presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma also spent time on the island.

The island was also used as a leper colony and animal quarantine station. Starting in 1845, lepers from the Hemel-en-Aarde leper colony near Caledon were moved to Robben Island when Hemel-en-Aarde was found unsuitable as a leper colony. At first, lepers were moved to the colony on a voluntary basis, but after the Leprosy Repression Act in May 1882, they were forced to live on the island, with no option of return.

During the Second World War, the island was used as a military base, which is why you’ll find artillery batteries and fortifications. The island was fortified and BL 9.2-inch guns and 6-inch guns were installed as part of the defenses for Cape Town.

From 1961, Robben Island was used by the South African government as a prison for political prisoners and convicted criminals. When the Apartheid regime was rejected by the South African people, the political prisoners who had been incarcerated on the Island received their freedom after many years. The maximum security prison for political prisoners was closed in 1991 while the medium-security prison for criminal prisoners was closed five years later.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1999, the island was … Read the rest

The Castle of Good Hope

castle of good hope

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. It was built in the 1600s. It is shaped in a pentagon with five bastions and flaunts both elements of Medieval and English Renaissance architecture. Before the land reclamation forced the building inland, it was originally a marker of the Table Bay shoreline. This fortress was once the center of civilian, administrative and military life in the Cape. The Castle of Good Hope arguably represents one of the best preserved 17th century DEIC architecture on the entire globe.  The Castle formed part of a formidable defensive system at the Cape that discouraged attacks. It has never been attacked. It is hoped to become South Africa’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site.

castle of good hope

The History

In 1664, tensions between Britain and the Netherlands renewed rumors of war. With the fear of a British attack on the Cape, a five-pointed stone Castle similar to other such fortifications in Europe and the East was built. It was planned around a central point with five bulwarks known as bastions.

The site of the Castle was chosen in 1665 by the Commissioner Isbrand Goske who later became the first Governor of the Cape. Pieter Dombaer, as the engineer, was responsible for the construction of the Castle which was built by slaves, burghers, Khoikhoi and company workers.

The foundations of the Castle of Good Hope were dug in 1665 and the cornerstones of the first bastion were laid on the 2nd January 1666, after which building started in all earnest.

The building of the castle was delayed when peace returned to Europe in 1667. The first bastion, Leerdam, was completed on the 5 November 1670. Followed by Buuren, Catzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje. The five bastions were named after the main titles of William III of Orange-Nassau on 26 April 1679. The height of the walls of the bastions on the sea side was 10 meters, and those on the land side were even higher.

In 1679, the Castle was finally completed. It was called a Castle because of its defensive structure and because it comprised a small community or town on its own similar to those castles in Europe. Inside its walls, there were among others, a church, living quarters, bakery, offices, workshops, cells and other facilities.

castle of good hope entrance

This castle can be entered through the Main Gateway from the Grand Parade and City Hall side. Between 1682 and 1684, this entrance was built to replace the original entrance which was situated between the Buuren and Catzenellenbogen bastions. The pediment above the entrance bears the crowned lion rampant with the seven arrows of unity in its paw which was the coat-of-arms of the United … Read the rest

Discover The High Tea Mount Nelson Hotel

Locating a dream hotel is usually something people only dream about doing. However, when people are looking at the High Tea Mount Nelson Hotel, they need to realize they can pinch themselves because they are not going to wake up. This place is like a dream, but it is a dream that people are actually living. This is a place that offers everything that people would want to have, but also has something for the entire family as well. With that being the case, let us talk about the High Tea Mount Nelson Hotel and what makes this such an attractive venue.


The main feature that people will enjoy with the hotel is the location. It is located in the beautiful city of Cape Town. However, it is not near all the headache regions that people see on the news. Instead, it is located in the beautiful and lush areas that are going to make it easier for people to go outside and simply enjoy their stay. It is important that people pay close attention to the schedules that are provided to make sure they are back in time for certain events.

One of those events that people will want to make sure they are back for is going to be the afternoon tea. The afternoon tea service at the High Tea has been rated as the best in Cape Town for quite some time now. However, what is really nice is they have taken and perfectly blended their signature team from six different teas. All of these when combined have made it possible for people to have a great tasting tea, but also get each of the flavors of the other teams coming through, which can really enhance the tea drinking experience that people want to have at a formal afternoon tea.


The hotel has also worked with several other businesses as well to set up multiple activities for people to select from. These are going to include anything from a historical walking tour around the city to the romantic connections that people may want to get when they are at Mount Nelson. Sometimes though the entire family may just want to go out on the Township Farm Tour so they can start to learn how the country raises their products and start to learn the methods that are different than where they are from.

Room selection can also play a part in what people are going to think of a hotel. When people are at the High Tea Mount Nelson they will generally find they have three different types of rooms. They have the standard type of room that are considered the deluxe rooms and … Read the rest