Cape Town

(IRB.COM) Friday 23 March 2012
 

Cape Town is the quintessential melting pot: it is a city alive with creativity, colour, sounds and tastes.


The Waterfront is a popular destination for visitors to Cape Town

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Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town boasts a diverse population and rich culture and is well-known for its friendliness and wide variety of outdoor facilities.

Cape Town, also called Kaapstad (Afrikaans) or iKapa (Xhosa), lies at the south-western tip of South Africa on the Cape Peninsula and is the capital of the province Western Cape.

The Western Cape province is one of the nine provinces of the Republic of South Africa and can be compared in size with the size of England.

The City Bowl, which is Cape Town's business district, has a picturesque setting on the Cape Peninsula as it is framed by the Table Mountain range to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the south-east.

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, with the National Parliament located next to the Company Gardens. From January to June the National Parliament meets in Cape Town, the second half of the year it moves to Tswane (Pretoria).

The Mother City is South Africa’s oldest city and was founded in 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established the first settlement in Southern Africa.

Cape Town is famous for its beautiful beaches, stunning floral beauty and the historic Robben Island. It is situated near the meeting place of two oceans and boasts numerous other attractions.

The impressive new Cape Town Stadium was built to host several matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and is currently a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue. Cape Town International Airport is South Africa’s second busiest transportation hub after Johannesburg and was extensively renovated for the 2010 World Cup.

Table Mountain which towers over the City Bowl at 1,063 metres above sea level, was recently voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in a worldwide competition. In another massive accolade for the city, Cape Town was also named as World Design Capital for the year 2014 by International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress.

The city is also home to a number of landmark sports facilities, such as the historic Newlands Rugby Stadium, the nearby and picturesque Newlands Cricket Stadium, various stunning golf courses and the Bellville Velodrome.

Other places of interest include the award-winning Cape Town International Convention Centre and the V & A Waterfront – a firm favourite with visitors – while the Canal Walk Shopping Complex and Greenmarket Square are excellent shopping destinations.

Place of interest to visit in Cape Town

Planetarium
Address: 25 Queen Victoria Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 481 3900
Housed within the same building as Cape Town's South African Museum, the Planetarium offers audiences of all ages a chance to enjoy some celestial theatre. A wide variety of shows and related attractions are on offer, from those aimed at the under 10s to weekend lectures for grown-ups. The domed auditorium can also recreate the night sky.
Open: daily 10:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge

Castle of Good Hope
Address: Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 787 1249
More of a fort than a castle as such, the Castle of Good Hope was built by early Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Before the reclamation of coastal land, the castle actually sat right on the coast, hence the name of nearby Strand Street.
Open: daily 09:00 to 16:00
Admission: charge

Two Oceans Aquarium
Address: Dock Road, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 418 3823
Widely regarded as one of the best in the world and rated as one of Cape Town's top tourist attractions, the Two Oceans Aquarium boasts a massive collection of some 300 species of fish. All are native to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The aquarium's star attraction is the vast open ocean tank in which sharks, rays and a myriad of sealife can be viewed. The sharks may be popular, but few can resist the comical penguin beach either.
Open: daily 09:30 to 18:00
Admission: charge, children under four years of age are free

Robben Island
Address: Nelson Mandela Gateway / Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 413 4200
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a short ferry trip across Table Bay. The infamous prison's most famous inmate was, of course, Nelson Mandela. Tours around the prison are given by former political prisoners. A thought-provoking museum gives the history of the island, which has also been used as a leper colony. Robben Island is a peaceful and rather beautiful place today, home to colonies of seals and penguins.
Open: ferries depart daily - 09:00 to 15:00 (weather permitting)
Admission: charge


Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela was Robben Island's most famous inmate

Groote Kerk
Address: Church Square, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 461 7044
The Groote Kerk is probably the best-known church in South Africa. Built in the 19th century on the site of an earlier Dutch reformed church, the Groote Kerk has some particularly interesting attractions. Look out for the lockable pews, huge pulpit, the 6,000-pipe organ and an unusual soapstone floor – beneath which are said to be buried some 200 people.
Open: Monday to Friday 10:00 to 14:00; Sunday 10:00 and 19:00 services
Admission: free guided tours on request

Houses of Parliament
Address: Parliament Street, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 021 403 2266
While a visit to the home of South Africa's parliament may not be at the top of your itinerary, it’s certainly worth taking a little time to explore this historic building. If you arrange an afternoon visit, it’s possible that you will be able to see South Africa’s politicians in action.
Open: Monday to Friday - tours by appointment
Admission: free

Information supplied by SA Tourism, Cape Town Tourism and The City of Cape Town.

Useful links
www.tourismcapetown.co.za
www.capetown.travel
www.capetown.gov.za/myciti
www.waterfront.co.za
www.robben-island.org.za
www.aquarium.co.za