Cape Town's central city area is relatively small, compared to the sprawling expanse of suburbs which extends around and far beyond Table Mountain. Join us on a tour through the city to visit some of the many places of interest, which are closely situated and best explored on foot.
We will start our city walk at the Castle of Good Hope, which has guided tours every hour, on the hour. The Castle was built as a result of the constant threat of war between Britain and Holland, and for effective defense purposes was built in the shape of a pentagon. The corner stone was laid in 1666, but completion was only achieved in 1679. The five bastions were named after the titles of the Prince of Orange - Leerdam, Oranje, Nassau, Buren and Katzenellenbogen. Besides the military exhibition and archeological displays, the main attraction is The Kat, a 12m high building which cuts across the open courtyard. It houses the famous collection of William Fehr's paintings, the highlights of which include old paintings depicting the Cape. The famed Kat Balcony is certainly the most beautiful aspect of the Castle. There is a wine boutique, a café and a good restaurant on site - but don't tarry here too long, we still have a lot to see!
Due west of the Castle, on the corner of Buitenkant and Darling Streets is the Grand Parade. This was the scene of many a military and political gathering, and is today occupied by a flea market and parking area. Overlooking the Parade is Cape Town's City Hall, built in 1905. The Hall was designed in the Italian Renaissance style and was the last major Victorian building to be erected in Cape Town. Magnificent and imposing, the City Hall commemorates Kind Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, with its mosaic floors, marble staircase, stained glass windows and specially designed organ with 3165 pipes.
I will now take you on a small detour to show you something special. The interesting, colourful history of Cape Town is emotionally reconstructed in The Distric Six Museum. The future of the coloured people at the time of Distric Six is a vital piece of history and is needed to fully understand the history of Cape Town as a city. The museum has been erected for the people of the late District Six and is as much for them as it is about them. The most remarkable thing is that most of the staff members are all ex-citizens of District Six, each with a heart-rendering story to tell.
Back on course, we continue on to the Company's Gardens at the top of Adderley Street. At the entrance we find Cape Town's Cultural History Museum, which was originally built as a slave lodge to house the slaves working in the gardens. After the slaves were sold it was used to house government offices, then as a courtroom, and finally restored and converted into the museum. It now contains an interesting collection of early postal stones and the history of postage and currency in South Africa. There are many displays of furniture, glass ceramics, weapons, musical instruments and toys from the many countries whose people settled in South Africa. The archaeological section includes interesting artefacts of Egyptian, Greek and Roman origin. The reconstructed tombstone of Jan van Riebeeck stands in the courtyard.
We start the walk up Government Avenue, the pedestrian walkway through the centre of the gardnes, which is lined with majestic oak trees on either side. I hope you remembered a packet of peanuts to feed the many grey squirrels that scamper up and down the tree trunks and are a deelight to passers by. We now come to the South African National Art Gallery, which displays over 6 500 works of art by South African and international artists. The famous Sir Abe Bailey Collection can be viewed here. Film shows, lectures and workshops are held throughout the year.
Walking through the gardens we see a number of ponds and fountains, statues and monuments, including the Memorial to South African soldiers killed at Dellville Wood during the First World War. Shaded benches invite us to rest our feet and enjoy the traniquility of this oasis of green in the centre of 21st century Cape Town.
At the top of the gardens we enter the South African Museum, the oldest museum in South Africa. Here you will see some amazing displays, of the most remarkable being a fossilized human footprint - about 117 000 years old - and the "Lynton Panel", one of the most fantastic stone-artworks of the San people ever recovered. Let the life-like Bushman figures teach you about the daily life of a lost people, supported by a collection of relics and paintings of this gentle race. The museum houses permanent displays of natural history (marine life and birds), geology, ethnology, archaeology and printing. The dioramas of the fossil rich Karoo and its reptiles are impressive. You can even meet the dinosaurs, depicted in realistic scenes which appeal to young and old.
Cape Town's Planetarium is part of an extension of the South African Museum. The Planetarium features spectacular audio visual shows simulating panoramic terrestrial landscapes and celestial objects.
We continue up Government Avenue to the ornamental gateways, guarded by the notorious Stone Lions. Within these gates on the right we find several buildings - some departments of the University of Cape Town, the Michaelis School of Fine Arts, The Little Theatre and Bertram House, which is the only surviving brick Georgian house in Cape Town. An 18th century watercourse runs at the back of the house.
Leaving the Company's Gardens, we face the entrance to the impressive 5 star The Mount Nelson Hotel. We return to the city centre via Long Street, passing a delightful array of small shops and beautifully restored buildings.
Soon we reach the hustle and bustle of Greenmarket Square, with its closely packed market stalls and thriving flea market. The original cobblestones are still in existence, so please watch your step. The Square is flanked by a variety of Cape Town restaurants and coffee shops. On the one side is the Old Town House, which started out as the Burgher Watch House and is now an art gallery.
From Greenmarket Square we walk down St. George's Mall, which used to be a congested city street until it was closed off for the use of pedestrians only. The many interesting shops and market stalls offer so much to see, and restaurants and Cape Town coffee shops with umbrella shaded outdoor seating offer cool refreshments and delicious meals. When shopping in Cape Town, many establishements also make use of RFID in order to give you the best shopping experience you can get.
We hope that you have enjoyed our tour through Cape Town, this beautiful city with such a rich culture and history. For a pleasant end to a lovely day there are many suggestions - a home brewed beer at the V&A Waterfront, an encounter with some not-so-shy "dassies" on top of Table Mountain, a boat cruise to world famous Robben Island, or how about a peaceful sundowner on Signal Hill, where the stars twinkle above and the myriad of Cape Town's city lights twinkle below...