Cape Town Central, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town foreshore.

The centre of present-day Cape Town is Adderley Street. Visits to the Castle, the fountains opposite the railway station, the Gardens with all the special places of interest in the immediate vicinity, could make a very full, interesting day for any tourist. During the Festive Season, sparkling many-coloured lights adorn Adderley Street, turning it into a stunning fairyland for both child and adult.

During the annual Minstrel Carnival, it is down Adderley Street that the numerous spectacularly coloured groups and bands march, dancing and singing;  they enthral thousands of spectators who line the street, and become swept up in the unique Minstrel experience. It is down Adderley Street that the annual university rag floats proceed, grabbing the spectators in a frenzy of music, sound and colour; coaxing them to share in the fund-raising mayhem that is so vital to institutions for the disadvantaged.

Adderley Street is named after the British parliamentarian Charles Adderley, a staunch supporter of colonial self-government who endeared himself to Capetonians by opposing the extraordinary (also unacceptable and unsuccessful) attempt to transform the Cape into a penal colony during the mid-19th century. Conspicuous is the War Memorial, which honours the city's soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice during the two World Wars and during the Korean War.

Eye-catching is the statue of the founder of the city, Jan van Riebeeck, which was created by the sculptor John Tweed; next to him is the statue of Maria de la Quellerie, Jan van Riebeeck's wife. The Golden Acre shopping complex has hundreds of little shops contained in ground level and underground malls - a shopper's delight enhanced by an overwhelming number of small stalls offering. colourful handcrafted items.

It is interesting to note that the complex, and indeed major portions of the central area, are built over large underground canals of water which mark the first attempts to run water from the mountain for use by the passing ships and townsfolk. Adderley Street, Strand Street and Riebeeck Street once formed the shoreline of Table Bay, more popularly known by the Dutch name of "Roggebaai".

At that time, cosy little fishermen's cottages were located along the shore, fish was dried in the sun, nets were mended, boats repaired, and a number of languages spoken. Also, the first locally built boat transported shale from Robben Island to the mainland, fish and seals from Saldanha and penguin eggs from Dassen Island, and water carts carried water everywhere along this busy shoreline.

Today the "Foreshore" covers  remnants of these memories, as some 140 hectares of landfill covers the area, stretching north-easterly towards the busy Duncan Dock named after the first South African Governor General, Sir Patrick Duncan. Buitengracht Street (=Outer Canal) marks what was once the western border of the old town. Beach Road meanders along the periphery of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a large commercial and leisure development designed around the original harbour.

The Somerset Hospital, dating back to 1862, was named after Lord Charles Somerset. Here, Governor Sir George Grey laid the corner stone and the country's very first medical students were trained. Nearby, Fort Wyngard, the site where the South African Coast Guard and Anti-Aircraft Artillery Museum are located. Cape Town's city centre has too many interesting features and sites to mention in a mere article - it is best for visitors to walk from one place to the next, experiencing the ambience, and listening to the old city history recounted by the numerous locals who are so proud and loyal, that their stories bring tears to your eyes.

by Zola Miller

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