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Discover beautiful Cape Town

Table Mountain provides a spectacular backdrop to Cape Town, one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. This is one of those places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime!
 
CityZapper’s editors selected the best tips and advice on Cape Town for you, and the team created this online city guide to make your visit to the city an unforgettable one. Rest assured that you’ll only get to see the city’s best and most unique sights, spots and venues.
 
Cape Town has roughly three million inhabitants and is known as a relaxed city where time and stress take a backseat to a more carefree way of living. People make time for lunch with friends and family, for savouring good wine in excellent company. Parties and rugby games take priority to life’s drearier affairs.
 
Table Mountain is the pride of Cape Town. The flat top of the famous mountain is often covered in clouds, forming the table cloth so to speak. Its summit treats visitors to a spectacular view of the city. Looking at the city below, you’ll see thousands of people, both locals and tourists alike, going about their business. Cape Town’s restaurants, museums and streets form part of the setting in which these people go about their lives. In summer, parties reach their climax in the city’s clubs as well as on its beaches, resulting in a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere.
 
The heart of Cape Town is formed by Long Street, Adderley Street and Strand Street. Strolling through these characteristic streets will easily keep you occupied for the better part of a day. The area’s cafés together with its dozens of shops, selling everything from second-hand clothes to antiques, handicrafts and books, certainly merit a visit. Lunch at one of the funky cafés, that often have no more than six tables, comes highly recommended since they serve the most delicious sandwiches and the best coffee at great prices.
 
Cape Town will also provide those of you that want to undertake their first skydive, those of you that want to go sandboarding or those of you that want to take their first flight with an authentic Huey helicopter, also known as the so-called Vietnam helicopters, with an ideal opportunity to do so. A Cape Town city break will mean a voyage of discovery for you in every way possible. The city manages to strike a fine balance between the many different aspects that influence all of our lives. People from all walks of life as well as the city’s nature, architecture, history, parties, humour, music, art, food and many other things give Cape Town its very own unique atmosphere.
 
Enjoy Cape Town!

History

Archaeological findings have shown that the first people settled here more than 15.000 years ago. Very little is known about the history of these people but it is generally assumed that they were hunter-gatherers.
 
In 2000 BC, the aforementioned people became acquainted with farmers that had moved to the area from the interior of what is now South Africa. These farmers happened to be more evolved than the hunter-gatherers. In the centuries that followed, both peoples lived together in harmony. It wasn’t until the 15th century that Cape Town became a less obscure place on the world map. The arrival of ships originating in Europe changed the area forever. The first to set foot on terra firma here was the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias.

The Portuguese were not so much interested in setting up trade with African countries, as in setting up trade with India and with other parts of Asia. To do so, they had to sail around the southern tip of Africa which proved to be very difficult due to the often wild seas and violent winds here. Many ships were lost in trying to sail around the so-called Cape of Good Hope, a name the Portuguese gave to the rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula. Following the founding of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, at a time when the trade route around the Cape gained in popularity and in importance, the Dutch decided to establish a resupply camp for the Dutch East India Company here. They did so by signing treaties with the African people that supplied the company with fresh meat, vegetables and water.

This sometimes led to tensions between both parties, especially when the supply camp was expanded. Between 1666 and 1679, the Castle of Good Hope was constructed on the coastline of Table Bay. The fortress grew into a small city, housing more and more Dutch people and later turned into Cape Town’s predecessor. Its four streets were home to 290 inhabitants of European descent. The fortunes of the Dutch East India Company started to decline at the end of the 18th century. In 1806, following the Battle of Blaauwberg, the territory was ceded to the British in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 and was thereafter administered as the Cape Colony. Many people living in the colony did not agree with its new rulers and decided to move further inland.  

It remained a British colony until being incorporated into the independent Union of South Africa in 1910. During the occupation by both the Dutch and the British, a system of apartheid (institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination) was enforced. This system remained in place after the country gained its independence. Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress party (ANC), fought a brave battle against apartheid. In 1962, he was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island. Growing domestic and international pressure led to the release of Nelson Mandela by president de Klerk in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk negotiated an end to apartheid and organised the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president, a post he held until 1999. Nelson Mandela received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize.