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A melting pot of culture in Cape Town

Cape Town diversity

Cape Town’s rich colonial history has endowed the city with some distinctive old buildings in the distinctive Cape Dutch style with its whitewashed walls, ornate gables and thatched roofs. Some of the best examples of these are to be found on the many wineries, the most easily accessible of which is Groot Constantia in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. An easy stroll along the Historical Mile between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay will take you past Posthuys, the oldest building in South Africa.

From Malaysian slaves, Dutch, English and French explorers to indigenous Khoisan people, the origins of Cape Town’s three million inhabitants are extremely diverse. Since Cape Town’s establishment as a halfway stopping point on the ‘Spice Route’ to India in the 1600’s, the centuries that followed saw an influx of explorers, settlers and colonists arriving in the ‘fairest Cape’ to live among the indigenous tribes already there.

Together with South Africa’s recent colourful and often painful history during the apartheid years, it’s small wonder that the city has emerged as a vibrant, edgy and eclectic place with a rich and textured cultural heritage.

Cape Town’s rich colonial history has endowed the city with some distinctive old buildings in the distinctive Cape Dutch style with its whitewashed walls, ornate gables and thatched roofs. Some of the best examples of these are to be found on the many wineries, the most easily accessible of which is Groot Constantia in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. An easy stroll along the Historical Mile between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay will take you past Posthuys, the oldest building in South Africa.

Township Tours
Township tours to the heart of Cape Town’s informal settlements such as Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Kayamandi are popular with visitors. Interact with residents as they go about their business, stop for lunch at a local hangout, visit some of the many community projects, stay over in a B&B, and experience a shebeen (local pub). Tourism is a major source of income for many township residents. It is essential to book these tours with reputable and knowledgeable guides who have a respectful relationship with the community.

Niche Tours
Experience authentic local culture by going on a special interest tour such as a jazz safari, offered by various operators, where you journey through Cape Town’s jazz scene for a day, possibly enjoying a home-cooked meal at an artist’s home or stopping at a jazz club for dinner.
Other special interest tours offered by Coffeebeans Routes include the Storytelling Route, the Cape Town Rootz Reggae Tour, the Secret Garden Route, and even dinner parties where tourists can enjoy traditional Cape Malay and Xhosa meals at the homes of Capetonians.

Art
Cape Town is a hub for artists and deigners. There are several art galleries focusing on a variety of art forms, while some artists’ homes are now open museums. Increasingly, art is being absorbed into the cityscape through murals, sculptures, installations and performance art.

Opera and Theatre
Cape Town’s opera scene is well supported and driven largely by public support. Overseas companies are snapping up many of our talented opera singers.

A public drive is currently underway to recognise and nurture the Cape Town City Ballet.
The city also boasts several theatres offering the best home-grown and international talent. The Baxter Theatre Centre is situated on university grounds in Rondebosch, the Artscape Theatre Complex, which was built in the 1970s, is in the city centre, the Theatre on the Bay is in Camps Bay and On Broadway is in Long Street. The latest addition, the Fugard Theatre, can be found in the historical area of District Six.

So you might be wondering what kind of uniquely African culture could possibly be present in Cape Town since it is such a metropolitan city? The answer is easy: it’s everywhere.

The culture is infused with the many other cultures that have shaped Cape Town and South Africa. As a tourist, you will especially notice the African flavor coming to the forefront as you pass by typical African markets where craftsmen gather to sell and barter the carvings and trinkets they have made. You hear men and women playing their African drums to entice you to purchase one. All over town vendors call to you to come and visit their stands, eager for you to buy their wares. In many places groups roam around singing traditional South African songs in order to earn a living.

And let’s not forget about the local townships where the traditional African culture is impossible to miss.

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