Friday, January 14, 2011

Architectural Gems

Since lately I've "concentrated" on Cape Town & environs [SEE below: Minstrel Carnaval & Wildlife at the Cape Peninsula] I'll continue this trend today. The colourful houses of The Bo-Kaap are always a pleasure to see & photograph - even the various mosques "follow this colourful trend". Most of the unique architecture & historical cobble-streets date back to the late 1700's when originally, the freed slaves or their descendants settled here.

Accordingly the multicultural area of the Bo-Kaap is sometimes still called the Cape Malay Quarter. In contrast to the "belief" that the Afrikaans language has it roots in the nearby town of Paarl, it actually developed in the Bo-Kaap as the lingua franca - educated muslims were in fact the first to write texts in Afrikaans.

The Castle in Cape Town is the oldest European building south of the Sahara & the ornate De Kat balcony a unique part of this fort. This balcony, built in 1695 & redesigned in the 1780's, is part of a defensive crosswall (= "kat" in Dutch) that divides the inside of the Castle into an inner & outer court. The "key ceremony" is re-enacted most days at 10am. From this balcony terms of punishment were also read out during the original Dutch occupation.

The Dolphin Pool in the rear courtyard of the Castle was added after Governor W.A. van der Stel obtained permission to build a new bakery in 1705. The double storey building was constructed at right angles to create a private "garden" behind the governor's residence, where the square pool was built with a central "dolphin" fountain. In 1860 the British Army (stationed here) filled the pool with soil, which was only reconstructed in the 1980's.

Other than that the tower of Cape Town's City Hall is a (small) replica of the Big Ben in London (UK), it's of great historical significance - shortly after his release from the Victor Verster (today called: Groot Drakenstein) prison on 11 February 1990, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela appeared on the balcony of this building to "hold" his first (nationally & internationally) televised speech.

2 of Cape Town's "landmark" buildings in Adderley Street - the Groote Kerk (NG Mother Church) & the (original) Slave Lodge - now housing a cultural-history museum.

Did you know that Adderley was a British parliamentarian, who "fought" the decision that the ship "Neptune" should deliver British convicts at the Cape (during the 1850's)? After this "battle" was won, the ship instead sailed on to Australia!

This certainly is a gem of a building = "housing" South Africa's parliament.

Did you know that each brick of this House of Parliament building, constructed in 1884, "carries" a stamp: "Made in England"?

Another gem of a building in the Company Gardens = Tuynhuis. Originally it was built as a guest house for visiting dignatories, but now is the city office of the State President.

Did you know that secretively at the time, Nelson Mandela was invited here for talks with the then South African President, P.W. Botha?

To "demonstrate" the Cape-Dutch architecture = the manor house at Groot Constantia - this estate also "represents" the Cradle of the Wine Industry in South Africa.

[For other "architectural gems" SEE other entries on this blog: Port Elizabeth, Friday 30 May 2008; Pretoria = The Jacaranda City, Wed 23 April 2008; Stellenbosch = Historical Winelands, 24 Mar 2010; Pilgrim's Rest = Old World Charm, 4 March 2010; Graaf-Reinet, Mon 6 October 2008; Camdeboo Magic, Sun 30 November 2008]

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