About Cape Town City Centre
The Cape Town City Centre is a major business district and financial centre of the Western Cape province of South Africa. The regeneration of the city centre has turned it into one of the trendiest spots in the country, and recent years have seen a huge increase in restaurants and bars making it the ultimate work, live, play destination. While retaining much of the city centre’s historic character, many buildings have been redeveloped into trendy spaces, many with mixed-use facilities that include shops and other amenities.
The South African parliament is located in the Cape Town City Centre, and it is the seat of government six months in the year. The City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality and the Western Cape provincial government, also have their head offices in the Cape Town City Centre. It is a vibrant business and commercial hub, with a mix of chain stores, surf shops and fashion boutiques. The Company’s Garden is a peaceful park in the Cape Town City Centre, featuring monuments and a rose garden. You can also find the colonial Castle of Good Hope here with its military and art museums.
Skyscrapers and freeways have radically altered the face of the Cape Town City Centre over the past five decades or so, yet the gracious old buildings, cobbled streets and monuments still provide a fascinating insight into the history of the city and of the many cultures that shaped it. The old city grew around the Castle of Good Hope, built to protect the early settlement, as well as the Company’s Garden, which was originally laid out for fresh produce. The first streets ran parallel to the shore. This required so many bridges over the streams running south-north from Table Mountain to the sea that the town planners decided, in 1710, to build the main streets parallel to the watercourses.
The city’s streets were dark at night – until 1809, when a few oil lamps were placed in the main thoroughfares. The first gas lamps were installed in 1847, and electricity was introduced in 1895. The main street was named Heerengracht and renamed Adderley Street in 1850 in honour of Sir Charles Adderley, the British politician who, in 1849, helped to reverse the British government’s decision to settle convicts at the Cape. When, in the mid-20th century, harbour facilities were expanded by reclaiming one and a half square kilometres from the sea, the northern extension of Adderley Street, running up to the waterfront, was given the name Heerengracht again.
Cape Town’s city centre is small enough to explore in a couple of days. In Long Street, you will find a quirky, bohemian mix of African curios, antique shops, book shops, coffee shops, restaurants and bistros. The Cape Spirit City Walk and the Footsteps to Freedom walk, are walking tours around the city center, which will help you gain insight into the rich history that contributed to the mix of cultures unique to Cape Town. Another of the Cape Town City Centre’s famous streets is Adderley Street, where you will find an abundance of shops, cafés, and flower sellers.
The Central City Improvement District (CCID) works to ensure that Cape Town’s City Center remains a vibrant and safe place. Various projects tackle social issues while urban management plans ensure cleaner and safer streets. You will spot the CCID team members out and about in the city centre in their distinctive bright green vests – and always willing to share advice. As the oldest city in the country, Cape Town is home to a mixture of architecture.