Cape Town is South Africa’s most beautiful city which is both familiar and unfamiliar to us. Familiar insofar as each of us, at least once in our lives, has sung in company, “In Cape Town Harbor, with a hole in the side. “. And unfamiliar because even with the beginning of Russian tourism in South Africa, not everyone is drawn that far. As the name implies, Cape Town is located near the Cape, which is considered the southernmost point of the continent. Since the time of Vasco da Gama, every navigator who rounded the Cape of Good Hope considered it his duty to mark this achievement on shore. Our sailors were once regular visitors here – in part, that’s why the city has now become a sister city of St. Petersburg.
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Video: Cape Town
Cape Town’s main attraction is the famous Table Mountain, one of the most recognizable in the world. Cape Town has a lot to see and do: the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere, the oldest buildings in South Africa, and the famous Cape Town Stadium, which in 2010 hosted many matches of the World Cup, the biggest and noisiest soccer game in the world.
Cape Town developed as a staging post for Dutch ships en route from Europe to East Africa, India and other parts of Asia and played a leading role in that capacity for more than 200 years, until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Cape Town, founded on April 6, 1652, by colonists under Jan van Riebeek, was the first permanent European settlement in sub-Saharan Africa. Cape Town quickly became more than just a staging post, and before the rapid growth of Johannesburg and Durban it was South Africa’s largest city.
View of Cape Town from the sea View of Cape Town from Table Mountain
There is no reliable information about when the first human settlements appeared here. The earliest archaeological finds (Pierce Cave, near Fish Hoek) are from about 12,000 years ago. Little is known about the early history of this region. The first written evidence dates only to 1486, when the Portuguese Bartolomeu Dias visited the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama also rounded the Cape in 1497, but regular contact with Europeans began only after the arrival of Ribeck in 1652. Ribeck worked for the Dutch East India Company and had to provide anchorage for its ships en route to Europe. The tip of South Africa at the time was inhabited primarily by the Hottentots, with the Khosa, a people belonging to the Bantu family, coming in from the east.
The city grew slowly in the beginning because of the lack of labor force. To make up for it, the Dutch began importing slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar. Many of these slaves were integrated into colonial society, and the descendants of mixed marriages of Indonesians, Europeans, and locals formed several distinct ethnic groups called “colored people,” with the Cape colored people standing out as a special community.
Colorful houses on Cape Town beach are a popular subject for postcards
In 1795 British troops captured the city after the Battle of Meisenberg. Under the terms of a peace treaty concluded after the war in 1803, Capstad was returned to the Dutch, but in the same year the conflict resumed, and in 1806 the British recaptured Kaap after the Battle of Blauberg. By the peace treaty of 1814 the region became an integral part of the British Empire. The territory subject to the British grew and the Cape Colony was established, with Cape Town as its capital.
Sunset over City Hall
The discovery of diamond deposits in West Griqualand and gold deposits on the Witwatersrand (near what is now Johannesburg) in 1869 triggered a gold rush and the rapid growth of Johannesburg through the influx of immigrants. In addition, friction began between the Boer states, created during the Great Trek and experiencing the influx of foreigners-Itlanders), and the British colonial administration. This conflict culminated in the Anglo-Boer War. Having defeated the Boer states (the Orange Republic and Transvaal) and having consolidated control over gold and diamond mining, the British merged the Boer republics with the Cape Colony and the British possession of Natal, creating the Union of South Africa. The SSA was proclaimed in 1910 and Cape Town became its legislative capital, a function it retained even after the Republic of South Africa was created in 1961.
Cape Town in 1870
In 1948 the National Party won the election, promising to introduce racial segregation, known as apartheid. Under the Group Areas Act, suburbs with a mixed population were to be either cleared of “illegally” residents or demolished altogether. Cape Town’s Sixth Ward, demolished in 1965, received a great deal of publicity in connection with this campaign. Because the area was proclaimed a white neighborhood, more than 60,000 black residents were forcibly evicted. During the apartheid era, hiring preference in Cape Town was legally given to people of color over blacks.
Many anti-apartheid fighters lived in Cape Town; some of them (including Nelson Mandela) were later imprisoned on Robben Island, 10 kilometers off the Cape Town coast. On February 11, 1990, a few hours after his release from prison, Mandela made his famous speech standing on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall. Since apartheid was abolished in 1994, Cape Town has faced many problems, including HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and crime, including drug-related crime. In the meantime, the city’s economy has boomed, especially with tourism and a booming real estate market.
The center of Cape Town is located on the northern edge of the Cape Peninsula. Table Mountain provides a picturesque backdrop to the city bowl, rising more than a thousand meters above sea level. It is surrounded by almost sheer cliffs, such as Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Sometimes a thin cloud, sometimes called a “tablecloth,” forms over the mountain. The peninsula itself is a small mountain range (more than 700 peaks are over 300 m high) and ends at Cape Point. Many of Cape Town’s suburbs are located on the large Cape Flats plain, which connects the peninsula to the mainland. Cape Flats consist mainly of sandy soils and were formerly a shoal: formerly Table Mountain was an island.
According to the most recent census data from South Africa in 2001, Cape Town had a population of 2,893,251 (about 7% of the country’s population). There were 759,767 households, of which 87.4% had sewage, 94.4% lived in more or less sanitary conditions with garbage collection and weekly toilet cleaning. 80.1% of households used electricity as their primary means of energy. Similar statistics are collected in South Africa, where much of the population, especially the black population, still lives in rather deplorable conditions (this is especially true of recent migrants from villages to cities and impoverished white farmers after the black majority came to power). 16.1% of households had one head of household, reflecting the impact of the AIDS epidemic.
Cape Town’s population dynamics, like those of South Africa as a whole, are complex and contradictory, varying widely across racial and linguistic groups. Overall, the city has a high birth rate, especially among blacks and colored people, but it is lower than the national average. At the same time, the mortality rate is also very high. The raging AIDS epidemic, especially in the city’s slums, and high crime rates with a significant number of gun deaths make a particular contribution to the death rate. The city also has a significant migration influx of marginalized black migrants from the hinterland of South Africa and other African countries.
Cape Town is notable for its racially diverse population, but also for the conflicting, contradictory relationship between major racial and ethnic groups that have traditionally competed with each other for the city’s rather limited economic resources. As in the U.S., race relations have been characterized in the past by overt, legislated racism that has now taken an implicit form (discrimination, reverse discrimination, residential segregation, etc.)
Racially, the city is relatively dominated by so-called people of color – descendants from interracial contacts of Asians (mostly imported as Malay domestic servants and slaves), whites (Dutch, Germans and partly Portuguese) and Negroes. Coloreds make up 48.13% of the population (1.393 million). Cape Town is the cultural capital of the colored population, whose native language is Afrikaans.
Next in size is the black population. Cape Town’s Black population is 31.0% (897,000), far lower than the national total (79%). The majority of blacks are recent migrants from tribal villages in the Northwest as well as natives of other, even less prosperous regions of Africa. Since blacks came to power after 1994, one of the goals of modern government has been to increase the proportion of blacks in the city and give them cultural, political, and economic leverage.
The third largest racial component of Cape Town is white, comprising 18.75% of the population (542,000). Their proportion in the city is almost double that of the country as a whole (10%), but whites are heterogeneous in origin and language. In the seaside areas (especially on the Cape), the bulk of the population is of British descent and speaks English. They are joined by relatively recent migrants from Europe (including Russians, Lithuanians, Portuguese, etc.) The other significant proportion of whites in the city are descendants of 17th and 18th century Dutch and German settlers (Afrikaners or Boers) who speak Afrikaans. The proportion and number of whites in the city has decreased considerably in the last 40 years, and especially in the last decade, due to their intense emigration to the USA, Australia, and Great Britain and their unwillingness to accept the loss of political power in South Africa, but Cape Town, because of its geographical position and long history, is still favorable, to a considerable extent and more than other South African cities, to preserve at least a part of the white population in the future.
Thunderstorm over the city
And in the cellars of Vaughan Johnson`s Wine Shop you will find over 500 different brands of South African wines. The owner is happy to advise you which wine to choose, its history and its virtues. Of course, if you are in Cape Town you should also take a trip along the Wine Route to see the South African wineries of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Constantia. The tradition of winemaking here dates back to the time of the first Dutch settlers. The first “cape” wine was ceremonially tasted in February 1659. Later, two hundred Huguenots, who had fled to South Africa from religious persecution, brought with them the secrets of the famous French wines. The local climatic conditions were so suitable for the cultivation of special “wine” varieties of grapes that wine production became one of the main occupations of the local farmers. Incidentally, Napoleon was very fond of Cap wine. You are bound to enjoy visiting several wineries, getting to know the production process and of course, tasting the grapes.
Cape Town Attractions
Cape of Good Hope Table Mountain Caves Cango Castle Castle of Good Hope National Park Table Mountain Nature Reserve Karyega Falls “Lisbon” Diamond Museum Cape Town
This site compiles Cape Town attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Cape Town, where to go, and where are the popular and interesting places in Cape Town.
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope was discovered in the late 15th century by a Portuguese navigator, but was only given its name when King João II himself named it in the hope that a sea route to India could now be opened. Soon, thanks to the crew led by Vasco de Gama, his expectations were fulfilled.
The Cape of Good Hope is located in South Africa, south of Cape Town, and is now one of the most famous national parks in the world. For a long time it was considered the southernmost point of the African continent, but it is actually the Cape of Needle.
The cape separates two oceans: the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The local mountains offer amazing views of both oceans, and several viewing platforms have been built especially for tourists. And along the way you can meet the local animals: penguins, ostriches, lions, and baboons.
The mountain gets its name from its completely flat peak. From afar it really looks like a giant table covered with a tablecloth of clouds. Over the years, streams of water have trickled down to the evergreen trees and shrubs underneath, forming the legs of the table. You can climb to the top by cable car or, if time and energy allow, along one of the three hundred hiking trails. It takes about three hours, and the reward is a view of Cape Town and the entire Cape Peninsula.
The mountain is bordered by the Twelve Apostles, Devil’s, and Lion’s Head peaks. It is part of a National Park Reserve where there are nearly two thousand unique plants found nowhere else.
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Kango Caves is a complex of grottoes, consisting of three sections, the total length of which exceeds four kilometers. The caves are striking in their antiquity: after all, they are twenty million years old.
Caves Kango have a lot of very narrow passages, over which – not an easy task. In addition, obese people are better to refrain from visiting the caves. A few years ago, there was a funny case when a fat woman managed to get stuck in one of the passages. The case turned into a real nightmare for 23 tourists who were trapped behind the woman’s back. It took twelve hours to get all of the hikers, including the hapless woman, out of the trap.
There is a legend: supposedly at the end of the nineteenth century explorer Johnny de Wassenaer has managed to penetrate as much as 25 kilometers into the depth of the caves, but there is no confirmation of it.
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Good Hope Castle
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building on the territory of South Africa. Its construction dates back to 1666, when a Dutch merchant Jan van Ribeck, guided by the rules of the East India Company, founded a small fort on the coast near Table Mountain. The main task of the fort was to provide provisions for friendly ships in the area.
In the next thirty years the fort was rebuilt into a full fort. The well-organized trade route near the coast contributed to this development. The castle has a pentagonal shape, and its walls rise to 10 meters.
Since 1936 half of the castle was converted into the National Museum of Military History. The other half, until today, houses the military headquarters.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park is located in the Western Cape and lies within the mountain range that forms the Cape Peninsula. It is attractive because of its unparalleled landscape and amazing vegetation.
There are several curious sites within the park that are a must-see: Table Mountain, Boulder Beach, Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
Table Mountain is named so because of its shape: it rises to a height of 1,086 meters above sea level. The top of the mountain is flat and surrounded by rocks around the perimeter. There are several routes for climbing and a cable car on the mountain, from which you can enjoy great views. It is also possible to hike to the top of the mountain.
Boulder Beach is a cove located on the Cape Peninsula. The attraction is that it gives you the opportunity to observe a colony of African penguins, which includes more than 3,000 of these remarkable creatures.
The Cape of Good Hope is considered the southernmost point of Africa, it used to serve as a lighthouse for seafarers and, according to legend, the “Flying Dutchman” is doomed to be circling in the area forever. The cape is home to about 250 different species of birds, including ostriches.
Cariega Nature Reserve
Kariega Reserve is a private reserve extending across 9,000 hectares of unspoiled wilderness in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The reserve is located along the famous route of the Garden Route, making it ideal for visitors.
Anyone visiting Kariega will be able to see for themselves the representatives of the “big five” – lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo. The reserve is completely free of malaria, so it is not necessary to be vaccinated before visiting it.
In addition to safari tours, Kariega offers the opportunity to stay in one of the comfortable lodges to experience the romance of Africa.
Lisbon Falls is the highest waterfall in the Republic of South Africa. It is located north of the town of Graskop in the province of Mpumalanga, in the immediate vicinity of Blyde Canyon.
To reach the waterfall, follow the local river, which winds like a snake along its course. At one point, the river splits spectacularly into three streams, each of which is capped by a waterfall. All three streams rush down from 92 meters high, creating an unforgettable spectacle.
Standing on the rocky observation deck at the top of the falls you can feel as if you are standing behind a wall of water.
Coordinates : -24.92936900,30.80686200
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Cape Town Diamond Museum
The Cape Town Diamond Museum just recently opened in Cape Town. It is a place to remind the international community of the enormous contribution of the Republic of South Africa to the international diamond industry.
In the Diamond Museum you can not only see a lot of magnificent diamonds, but also follow the whole process of mining and processing of the hardest mineral in the world.
It will take about half an hour to see all the exhibits in the Diamond Museum. At the exit all visitors will be offered to buy diamonds at very reasonable prices.
The most popular attractions in Cape Town with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit Cape Town’s famous places on our website.
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