Cape Town for Culture Buffs

There's history and culture at every turn in Cape Town. It's also a city that today is proudly multicultural. You can see the mosques and brightly painted Georgian terraces of Bo-Kaap, the quarter where descendents of Malaysian slaves settled. There's the Anglican cathedral, once led by the legendary Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and family vaults of early Dutch Cape settlers at Groote Kerk. On Robbens Island, you can visit the Leper's Church, built by and for the afflicted.

But there's plenty of art and history on show, too. At the South African National Gallery, the nation's premier collection, you can see outstanding examples of South African art, and the South African Museum showcases everything from 19th-century social history to ancient rock art.

You can see the nation's colonial history at the Rhodes Memorial, but also celebrate where Nelson Mandela made his victory speech at City Hall. Cape Town certainly has its history on show.

South African National Gallery

The gallery houses a permanent collection of African and European art, plus temporary exhibitions that include the best of the country’s contemporary art.

St George’s Cathedral

Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in the early 20th century, this is South Africa’s oldest cathedral and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s territory from 1986 to 1996. It was here from where he led over 30,000 people to City Hall to mark the end of Apartheid, and where he coined the phrase ‘Rainbow Nation’.

South African Museum

The city’s most established museum specialises in natural history, ethnography and archaeology, with more than 1.5 million specimens. These range from 700 million-year-old fossils to flora and fauna of Southern Africa and traditional clothing.

Groote Kerk

Until 1834 the square was used for auctioning of slaves from the Slave Lodge, with all transactions taking place under a tree; a concrete plaque marks the old tree’s position. The Groote Kerk was South Africa’s first church of the Dutch Reformed faith in South Africa (consecrated in 1704).

City Hall

The neoclassical City Hall was built in 1905 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, with a clock tower a half-size replica of Big Ben in London.

Rhodes Memorial

On the northern slope of Table Mountain is the imposing granite memorial to Cecil John Rhodes (Cape Prime Minister 1890- 1896). Four bronze lions flank a wide flight of steps leading up to a Greek Temple, which houses an immense bronze head of Rhodes, wrought by JM Swan.

Artscape Theatre

Cape Town’s major arts complex consists of an opera house, a main theatre seating 1500 and an arena, with regular classic music, dance and drama productions.

Rust En Vreugd

Hidden behind a high, whitewashed wall near the National Gallery, this 18th-century mansion was built as a home for Willem Cornelis Boers from the Dutch East India Company. It houses six galleries displaying watercolours, engravings and lithographs depicting the history of the Cape. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm.

Leper Church

Also known as the Church of the Good Shepherd, this Anglican church was built by lepers in the late 19th century on Robben Island. It's one of four buildings for caring of many hundreds of lepers who were taken here to live.

Masjied Boorhaanol Islam

Declared a national monument in 1970, this mosque lies in the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, which has long been associated with the Muslim community since they arrived in 1652.