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article imagePhoto Essay: Cape Town — 'The Mother City' for so many reasons Special

By Anne Sewell     Jul 11, 2013 in Travel
Cape Town - It is easy to imagine the thoughts of Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Diaz, when he first discovered the Cape in 1488. Arriving from the sea to that amazing, mountainous splendor must have been truly wonderful indeed.
Table Bay, as it is now called, with the Cape peninsula curved around it, is still as spectacular today. However, the City of Cape Town has come a long way since its initial beginnings, first as home to the nomadic Khoi people and later to the Dutch settlers of Jan van Riebeek of the Dutch East India Company.
While the backdrop of Table Mountain remains pretty much the same, Cape Town has grown into a truly international city, sprawling around the mountains and hills of the peninsula.
The classic view of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand  Cape Town  South Africa.
The classic view of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa.
Danie van der Merwe
One thing is for sure, the cliches that have been applied to Cape Town are all completely true. Often called "The Mother City", due to the fact that South Africa actually began at that point on the continent. Also called "The Tavern of the Seas", due to its strategic location on the way around the Cape of Good Hope, and also often dubbed the most beautiful city in the world.
Flying into Cape Town International Airport gives a slightly different impression at first, as you drive through a series of dilapidated townships and into the city itself.
Cape Town City Bowl from Lions Head with Lions Rump (Signal Hill) and Cape Flats in the distance.
Cape Town City Bowl from Lions Head with Lions Rump (Signal Hill) and Cape Flats in the distance.
Martin Power
However, in the "City Bowl", as it is called, modern buildings intertwine perfectly with the more classical Victorian buildings, and shops and restaurants abound to tempt you to open your wallet.
Panorama from the top of Table Mountain. From left to right are visible Lion s Head  Signal Hill  Ro...
Panorama from the top of Table Mountain. From left to right are visible Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Robben Island, the Cape Town city centre, Table Bay, and Devil's Peak.
Oberhbe
For tourists, there are plenty of international class hotels to choose from, both in the city bowl and in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. You can also choose from many hotels in the surrounding suburbs, along with a range of quality bed & breakfasts, guest houses and self-catering villas and apartments, for the perfect holiday accommodation.
City Hall in Cape Town  South Africa
City Hall in Cape Town, South Africa
Felix Gottwald
What to do in the city itself?
Take the famed cable car up to the top of Table Mountain and experience a glorious view of the city, Signal Hill, Lions Head and the surroundings, While you are up there, meet the famous 'Dassies' or rock rabbits, that live on the summit - almost tame and very cute.
Table Mountain viewed from Lions Head  Cape Town  South Africa.
Table Mountain viewed from Lions Head, Cape Town, South Africa.
Coda.coza
Visit the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and take a ferry to Robben Island where you can visit the jail cell occupied by Nelson Mandela for 27 years. while there, you can enjoy the view of Table Mountain from the island.
Robben Island  where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
Rüdiger Wölk
There is so much to do in the Waterfront itself. Take a sailing cruise, harbor cruise or booze cruise. Watch the seals lounging around the fishing port as you go.
A panoramic view over the Victoria Basin at the V&A Waterfront - note the thin layer of cloud on...
A panoramic view over the Victoria Basin at the V&A Waterfront - note the thin layer of cloud on the mountain. Often cloud drapes the top of Table Mountain in what is called the "table cloth."
Damien du Toit
Have a shopping spree in the luxurious and tempting Victoria Wharf shopping mall, or just relax in the many restaurants, cafes and bars.
When you are finished with the Waterfront, there is the Castle to visit and the fascinating Bo-Kaap, the colorful original Cape Malay quarter of the city. While there, hear the noon gun boom out, as it has since 1806. The gun is situated on Signal Hill, just adjacent to the city.
The Bo-Kaap - the original Cape Malay quarter in Cape Town  South Africa.
The Bo-Kaap - the original Cape Malay quarter in Cape Town, South Africa.
PZFUN
Stroll down Long Street, the famous bohemian hang out, where the street is lined with many book stores, various ethnic restaurants and bars. Dining includes African restaurants such as Zula Sound Bar & Cafe, and Indian restaurants such as Masala Dosa. Cape Town is renowned not only for its local cuisine, but also tempts your taste buds with recipes from all over the world.
Architecturally, Long Street is noted for its Victorian buildings with wrought iron balconies.
The bohemian and fascinating Long Street of Cape Town  South Africa.
The bohemian and fascinating Long Street of Cape Town, South Africa.
Georgio
Visit Greenmarket Square in the center of town. Over the years, the square has served as a slave market, a vegetable market, a parking lot and more recently, has become an informal flea market trading mainly African souvenirs, crafts and curios. Local buskers entertain the crowds as they stroll around, including the famous Lunga Goodman Nono, a blind guitarist who has recently been in the news.
Greenmarket Square in Cape Town  South Africa.
Greenmarket Square in Cape Town, South Africa.
Maethordaer
Visit the lush and green Kirstenbosch Gardens for a relaxing stroll and the occasional music concert:
View across the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town  South Africa
View across the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa
Didier B
Another beautiful sight is the University of Cape Town, with its spectacular backdrop:
A view of the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town.
A view of the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town.
Adrian Frith
Had enough of the city center? Time to go further afield. Visit Clifton Beach just outside of town, with its houses and apartments hanging on the cliffs down to the beach.
Clifton 4th Beach  Cape Town  South Africa
Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
Warren Rohner
Visit the gorgeous and upmarket Camps Bay, a popular seaside town with some amazing restaurants on the golden sandy beach front. There are several luxurious hotels available in the suburb along with quality B&Bs, all framed by the beautiful Twelve Apostle Mountains.
View of Camps Bay  Cape Town from Lion s Head.
View of Camps Bay, Cape Town from Lion's Head.
Warrickball
All along the Atlantic Seaboard you encounter many lovely suburbs and towns, all with beautiful beaches and so much to explore including the beautiful Hout Bay where you can enjoy some tasty fish and good local wines at the harbor:
Hout Bay  near Cape Town  South Africa as viewed from Chapman s Peak.
Hout Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa as viewed from Chapman's Peak.
Kay
Another must-visit is the famous Cape Winelands where you can visit the vineyards for wine tastings, delicious lunches, and beautiful views.
Go to Cape Point and watch where two oceans meet - the area has the benefits of both the warm Indian Ocean on one side and the colder Atlantic Ocean on the other:
View of Cape of Good Hope  from Cape Point  South Africa
View of Cape of Good Hope, from Cape Point, South Africa
Zaian
Visit the Overberg Region and the Whale Route - Hermanus is a historic little town with so many attractions including whale watching - the whales are so close, you could almost touch them!
Take a trip down the famed Garden Route all the way along the coast to Plettenberg Bay and the nearby Tsitsikamma Forest. Along the route you will visit quaint, unspoiled seaside towns, and can also experience the ostriches and Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn, surrounded by real tranquility and beauty.
An ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn  Western Cape  South Africa
An ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, South Africa
Georgio
All over the Cape Peninsula, golfers will find world-class golf courses to indulge their hobby, all with mountain or sea views.
On the subject of sport, footballers will remember the city well, as it hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010 along with other major cities in South Africa:
Cape Town s Greenpoint Stadium readies for the FIFA World Cup 2010
Cape Town's Greenpoint Stadium readies for the FIFA World Cup 2010
Warren Rohner
All in all, Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula of South Africa are well worth the visit and you will never forget the time that you spent in this marvelous country. As the northern hemisphere heads for winter towards the end of the year, South Africa warms up with sunny and friendly hospitality. However, bear in mind if you want to visit in December, you'll need to book early!
Other related articles:
Photo Essay: 'Whale Crier' calls you to visit Hermanus, S. Africa
Visit Oudtshoorn: Stalactites, stalagmites and ostriches galore
More about South Africa, Cape town, Travel, Holiday, Vacation
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