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City Centre / Page 2


Cape Town Walkabout Map
Cape Town City Map

I n f o r m a t i o n :
Cape Town Tourism {+27 (0) 21 - 4264260} at the The Pinnacle, Corner Castle & Burg Streets, Cape Town.

The South African Library was designed by William Kohler and his designs were based on the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The opening ceremony was performed by Prince Alfred in 1860 and an impressive portrait of Queen Victoria's son hangs in the main reading room. Governor Sir George Grey was responsible for this magnificent building and a collection of his books and manuscripts are to be viewed here. They include a copy of Shakespeare's first folio.

The South African National Gallery displays over 6 500 works of art by South African and international artists. The permanent Sir Abe Bailey Collection can be viewed here. Film shows, lectures and workshops are held throughout the year.

The Great Synagogue, in Government Avenue behind the Gallery, is one of Cape Town's outstanding buildings and was the first synagogue in South Africa. The foundation stone was laid in 1904 by Governor Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson and was opened in 1905. Standing alongside is the Old Synagogue, opened in 1863, which now houses historical and ceremonial treasures of the Jewish Museum. Its Egyptian Revival architecture is common only to the Egyptian Building higher up the avenue and the Paarl Gymnasium in Paarl. The Holocaust Museum is close by and is highly recommended.

Further up Cape Town's Government Avenue, turn right into the South African Museum, which may also be reached via Queen Victoria Street. It houses permanent displays of natural history (marine life and birds), geology, ethnology, archaeology and printing. The collection of Bushman relics and lifelike figures (created by the artist James Drury at the turn of the century), the Bushman paintings exhibit, and dioramas of the fossil rich Karoo and its reptiles, are notable. A recent addition is the impressive Whale Well.

Cape Town's Planetarium is part of a R20 million extension of the South African Museum and was completed in 1987. Spectacular audio-visual shows simulating panoramic terrestrial landscapes and celestial subjects, are a feature.

Visit Jewel Africa on the corner of Bloem and Buitengracht Street. Hear all about the four C's of diamonds and watch how rough stones are cut and polished into brilliant diamonds. See the workings of a platinum workshop. African craftwork made of verdite, wood, stone, ceramic and copper. Experience the magic of Africa's largest gold chain factory and see how our goldsmiths design and complete a unique item of jewellery.

Further up Government Avenue are the ornamental gateways guarded by the Stone Lions sculpted by Anton Anreith. Within these on the right lie buildings housing several departments of the University of Cape Town, The Michaelis School of Fine Arts, The Little Theatre and Bertram House , the only surviving brick Georgian house in Cape Town. Built by a Yorkshireman named Barker, and named after his wife Ann Bertram Findlay, it was completed in 1839. An 18th century watercourse runs at the back of the house which once led to a nearby mill. The Ann Lidderdale Collection forms the nucleus of the exhibits with examples of fine furniture, ceramics, silver and objects d' art.

Within the gardens are a number of statues, monuments and ponds including the Memorial to South African soldiers killed at Delville Wood during the First World War. The grey squirrels which inhabit the trees lining the Avenue are a delight.

Leaving the Company's Gardens and returning to Cape Town's city centre via Long Street you will pass a delightful collection of small shops and restored buildings of architectural interest. The old Palm Tree Mosque is the only surviving 18th century house which was built by Carel Lodewijk Schot in the late 1780s. The building was converted into a mosque in the early years of the 19th century by the son-in-law of the Imam.

The Blue Lodge remains the only magnificently decorated Victorian corner building in the city. It was originally designed by Max Rosenberg as a rooming house. One of the city's most treasured buildings is the Sendinggestig built in 1804. It became the mother church of Dutch Reformed missionary activity. It houses valuable documents relating to early churchmen.

Continuing your walk, you reach Greenmarket Square, which is still covered by market stalls and continues to serve its original function. The original cobblestones are still in existence and a thriving flea market is flanked by a number of restaurants and coffee shops. On the one side is the Old Town House whose foundation stone was laid in 1755 and completed in 1761. Originally the Burgher Watch House, it is now a gallery housing some fine works of art including the Michaelis Collection of old Dutch and Flemish masters.

The Metropolitan Methodist Church, on the corner of Burg Street and the Square, is a Gothic building which was regarded by Capetonians of old as the finest place of worship in the country.

The St George's Mall used to be a congested city street until closed off for the use of pedestrians. It is flanked by shops and a number of restaurants and coffee shops with umbrella shaded outdoor seating. Buskers entertain passers-by and there are many stalls selling a variety of goods.

Cape Town's Strand Street runs down from the slopes of Signal Hill through the centre of the City. Koopmans DeWet House was completed in 1701 and is a prime example of a typical Cape Town House. The land was granted to Reyner Smedinga by Willem Adriaan van der Stel. He imported building materials from Holland and built his house in Strand Street, which was the most fashionable area of town. The facade was remodelled by Thibault in the late 18th century, with Anreith carrying out the sculpturing decorations.

At the back of the house are the slave quarters and a courtyard. The house was acquired by the de Wet family in the early 19th century and remained in their possession until Marie de Wet married Christoffel Koopmans. Marie made a fine collection of furniture that forms the nucleus of the museum today. The exhibits portray the lifestyle of a successful 18th century businessman. The house became a place of famous social and political gatherings, with persons such as Cecil John Rhodes and Paul Kruger having visited here. The building and its contents were purchased in 1913 to form a museum.

In 1771, Martin Melck gave his fellow Lutherans permission to hold services in his barn in Strand Street. A few years later, consent was given to convert the barn into the Lutheran Church. The church's carved pulpit by Anreith has become famous. Melck had set aside land next to the church for a parsonage, though it was only after his death that it was built. Designed by Anreith, Martin Melck House is the only surviving example of an 18th century townhouse complete with dakkamer (roof-room). On the other side of the church is the Sexton's House, built in 1787. It is now restored and serves as the Netherlands Embassy.

Within the vast shopping complex of Cape Town's Golden Acre in Adderley Street, one is able to view the remains of part of the reservoir built in 1663 by Governor Zacharias Wagenaar. It is the oldest remaining structure in South Africa. The original waterline prior to the land being reclaimed from the sea is indicated on the floor of the Golden Acre.

Rust-en-Vreugd
in Buitenkant Street is an 18th century house containing the bulk of the noted William Fehr Collection of water-colours and valuable Africana (the remainder is housed at the Castle).

The Archives
in Roeland St, situated in the old Roeland Street Gaol, contains extremely interesting maps, documents, pictures and photographs dating back to the earliest days of the Cape.

The Malay Quarter
, up the slopes of Signal Hill above Buitengracht Street, is a residential area of people descended from Malay slaves and immigrants brought to the Cape during the Dutch occupation. The Malay community was established by Sheikh Yusuf of Batavia on his arrival at the Cape in 1693. The earliest of the houses in the Bo-Kaap were erected at the close of the 18th century. Traditional flat-roofed houses, minarets and mosques are a feature. The Bokaap Museum, in Wale Street, is a typical example of this type of building and it portrays the lifestyle of a 19th century Malay family.

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