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Best Historic Locations in Cape Town

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Auwal Mosque

Established in the late 18th century, the Auwal Mosque was the first mosque to be built upon South African soil and can still be found on the Dorp Street. The mosque has a fascinating history, as the construction took place on land that was owned by Ceylon, a freed slave, while its founder was a banished Indonesian prince: Tuan Guru who came to be known as Iman Abdullah Kadi Salaam. The imposing mosque is worth a visit both for its beautiful architecture and its history.

Cape Town, South Africa
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St. George's Cathedral

The home of Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, St.George's Anglican Cathedral is known for its magnificent stained glass windows, which depict the lives of various Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs and Saints of the Holy Church throughout the world.. The foundations for the modern cathedral, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, were laid in 1901, although it was not until 1908 that it was finally developed. None other than the future King of England, George V, laid the foundation stone.

Cape Town, South Africa
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City Hall

Built in 1905 in the Italian Renaissance style and situated in Darling Street, lies the magnificent Cape Town City Hall. Its 39 bells, the largest carillon in Southern Africa, ring out from the 61 meter high tower on special occasions, giving it the reputation of being a mini replica of London's Big Ben. The organ, with its 3165 pipes, is the pride of the Grand Hall. Sir George Martin, who constructed the organ at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, is responsible for its design. The City Hall today is home to the Cape Town Municipal Library.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Grand Parade

One of the most important squares in the center of town, the Grand Parade is always busting with activity. it is the nerve center and is surrounded by some of Cape Town's mot noted attractions like the Castle Of Good Hope and the Cape Town Railway Station. This square is also used as a parking spot for local market goer, and even plays host to political rallies, cultural events and local community gatherings.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Castle of Good Hope

Guided tours of this national monument take place at the top of the hour daily. The pentagonal building was built by Pieter Dombaer in the shape of a five-pointed star, following a construction system inspired by French military engineer Vauban. The five bastions carry the titles of the Prince of Leerdam; Oranje; Buren; Catzenellenbogen; and Nassau. The bastions housed the military, provided storerooms, prisoner cells and chambers. Come and see the formal changing of the guard at 10:00a and again at noon on weekdays.

Cape Town, South Africa
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The Company's Garden

A historic public garden, The Company's Garden has seen several changes, much like the city of Cape Town itself, from the time of its original foundation. Originally established by the Dutch in 1652, they used it as a station to supply and stock provisions to ships sailing to the East. Maintained by the Dutch East India Company till 1795, when the garden fell into ruins as the company dissolved into bankruptcy. Following years saw further changes by the British and finally, it was taken over by the Municipality in 1892 and opened to the public six years later. Due to its historic nature, as well as the natural beauty, the gardens are a major cultural landmark as they house institutions like the Parliament Houses, Iziko Museum, Great Synagogue and Tuynhuys amongst others. A lovely place to spend a day visiting the sites, or just relaxing amongst the greenery. Kids will love the lovely pond and aviary and the local crafts along the main avenue.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Centre for the Book

Centre for the Book is an iconic historic building situated upon Queen Victoria Street. It is one of the branches of the National Library of South Africa and is known for its outreach programs and workshops and courses for kids. Apart from providing an easy access to a library, it hosts several workshops, readings, launches and book clubs along with the Ukuhamba Nabatwana Trust, as a Children’s Reading Centre. Besides its value as a library, the building itself is a beautiful work of architecture and is considered a national monument.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Rhodes Memorial

This national monument was built in memory of Cecil John Rhodes, the former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and is situated on the eastern slopes of Devil's Peak on a portion of land Rhodes set aside to preserve the beauty of the mountain. The steep steps of the neo-classical granite memorial offer sweeping views over the Cape Flats, stretching out to distant northern mountain ranges. Alongside the memorial is a large reserve for herds of eland, zebra and antelope. For those who want to sit and take in the view, there is a tearoom housed in an old stone cottage with a beautiful garden. If you fancy something sweet, try their wickedly tasty lemon meringue pie. If you feel a bit more energetic, this is also a popular starting point for hikes.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Arderne Gardens

The Arderne Gardens sprawl by the Main Road of Claremont in Cape Town, South Africa. It was founded in the mid 19th-century by Ralph Arderne, a timber trader. His exotic collection included the magnificent Norfolk Island Pine. In the 1920s, the garden was rescued from certain doom by the Municipality’s Parks and Gardens division. It is famous for its Champion Trees; the largest in South Africa. The garden is also popular as a spot for wedding photography.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Robben Island

Between the 17th and 20th Centuries, Robben Island was synonymous with isolation, variously used as a prison, leper colony and asylum. Through the course of its history, this small island off the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa was also employed as a post office, military outpost and port for ships visiting Table Bay. However, the island is most renowned as the site of the maximum security prison for political prisoners opened in 1961 to detain the leaders of the anti-apartheid revolution. The most notable of the island's inmates is Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence at Robben Island. Other former inmates include Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, both of whom went on to be elected presidents of the country following the fall of apartheid in 1990. Robben Island is now a museum that preserves the legacy of the island; a symbol of the triumph of democracy over racism, inequality and discrimination. Besides the imposing edifice of the maximum security prison, the island also encompasses the crumbling ruins of the military fort, the lepers’ church, a small lighthouse and the tomb of Hadije Kramat - a place of pilgrimage. A World Heritage Site, Robben Island attracts thousands of visitors each year. Guided tours are led by former inmates who offer a rare glimpse into the lives of those incarcerated at Robben Island.

Cape Town, South Africa
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