Heritage buildings in Cape Town are not as scarce as one might expect from a city whose building history dates back only to the 1650s with the arrival of the Dutch.
Yes, Bartholomeu Dias rounded the Cape in 1488 but, apart from his stone crosses, he left little by way of heritage buildings.
Heritage buildings in Cape Town, are recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). Some of them are also national monuments, as a result.
We’ve picked 10 of the best of these to bring you the most iconic heritage buildings Cape Town …
There are portions of the city’s original Malay Quarter that make it onto the heritage list, particularly because of the special character of the houses that reflect ways of life specific to the Malays who live here. The brightly painted homes are much photographed.
The Clock Tower – built in 1882 and standing at South Africa’s oldest working harbour named after Queen Victoria’s second son after his visit – is not the only heritage site at the V&A. You’ll also find: Chavonnes Battery, the gateway to Robben Island, and the Time Ball Tower (1883). The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is also attracting a great deal of attention, even if it falls short of a heritage site.
When Jan van Riebeeck took up his post at the Cape Outpost, he built a fort of Good Hope on the shore. Today the city’s castle rests on the other side of the reclaimed shoreline, open for daily tours and events.
This incredible Edwardian building is in Queen Victoria Street and serves not only an historical function, but is also an outreach arm of the national library. You can hire the domed ceremonial hall for events (it works beautifully for weddings).
This is one of our favourites. The impressive, beautifully finished 1778 townhouse lies on the outer edge of old Cape Town. Its period-style gardens and gazebo are for hire, whilst the three-storey house is a museum.
This beautifully retained Georgian house is a cube-shaped double-storey that remains unplastered, one of the original buildings built within the confines of the Dutch East India Company’s garden. It’s probably the only surviving example of English Georgian style brick houses in the city.
There are a string of heritage buildings along iconic Long Street, but with the constant hubbub and traffic, their magnificence tends to fade into the background. Once you start looking, there is plenty to see:
- 206-208 – Blue Lodge
- 78 Long Street – old YWCA
- 34 Long Street – T Gibson Building
- 140, 142, 148 Long Street – all now commercial
- 301-305 Long Street – Victoria Court
- 178-196 Long Street
- 134-136 Long Street – great Art Nouveau elements
Experience heritage buildings in Cape Town, further with these WALKS:
- Slave Heritage Walks, Cape Town (Download the PDF from Cape Town Gov Site)
- Heritage Walk of Cape Town’s East City