Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood
5 Things To Know About Cape Town's Bo-Kaap District
Whenever you search for pictures of Cape Town, you are bound to see several photos of the city’s Bo-Kaap neighborhood sprinkled into the mix.
You will see the rows of homes on cobblestone roads, standing out against the background because of their bright and bold colors.
If you have plans to visit Cape Town, this is an area you don’t want to miss. Here are five things you need to know about the district.
It is the oldest residential area in Cape Town
Bo-Kaap is said to be the oldest residential area of Cape Town, South Africa. The oldest building in the neighborhood is now The Bo-Kaap Museum, which was built sometime between 1763 and 1768. It still holds its original form today.
The neighborhood has had several name changes
Although we know it as the Bo-Kaap district today, the area has gone through many name changes over the decades. It was originally referred to as Waalendorp, after Jan de Waal. It was then known as the Malay Quarter before taking on the name that it bears today.
Many of the residents are descendants of slaves brought over by the Dutch.
South Africa has a heavy Dutch influence as seen in many of its street names and buildings. Many of the former slaves brought into Cape Town were taken from Indonesia, Malaysia, and of course other African countries. The residents were once known as Cape Malays due to a large number of them being of Malaysian descent. However, that distinction no longer holds true. You can still find traces of Malaysian culture in the dialect of one of the languages spoken in the area.
Islam is the main religion in the area
Many Muslims made their way to the area after the abolition of slavery and built mosques for prayer. South Africa’s first and oldest mosque, The Auwal Mosque, can be found in Bo-Kaap. Depending on the time of day, you can hear the calls for prayer throughout the neighborhood.
It is now a popular tourist area
While this neighborhood is full of history, the area has now turned into a popular area for tourists. Many visiting Cape Town flock to the area to get their photos of the colorful homes. There are a few small coffee shops and restaurants in the area so if you need to grab a quick bite, the option is there. You will still find residents moving on with their everyday life as well.