Bo-Kaap colourful tourist attraction
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One of the most loved tourist areas in Cape Town is Bo-Kaap, home to seven mosques, some cobblestone streets, and more than 3000 residents, predominantly Muslim, and once known as the ‘Malay Quarter’. The Auwal Mosque is the oldest in the area, dating back to 1794, just less than 30 years younger than the building housing Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel, and 800 meters from the hotel.
The Cape Malay residents in the area are descendants of the slaves brought to Cape Town from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Africa. When the first slaves earned an income, semi-detached houses on Waal Straat (Wale Street) were rented to them by Dutch landowner Jan de Waal from 1763 onwards.
There are two theories as to why the houses are so colourful, not seen elsewhere in Cape Town. When slave labour was abolished, and slaves could buy their rented white-painted houses from 1834 onwards, they chose strong exterior colours to express their freedom. Many years later, in the ‘Seventies’, the National Party Government of the day moved all residents of District Six to Mitchell’s Plain. The Bo-Kaap residents were not moved. As an expression of pride, freedom, and independence, the owners of the houses painted them in strong colours. There are 19 heritage sites in Bo-Kaap.
Bo-Kaap is a popular destination for film shoots, colourful convertibles of days gone by a good match with the colourful homes in the area. Atlas Trading Company is a popular and inexpensive spice shop, not only for the Bo-Kaap housewives but for Capetonians and visitors too.
The residents of the area host a Minstrel Carnival at New Year, making music and are dressed in beautiful costumes, with males of all ages participating in a procession through the city centre streets.
Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel…….’like no other in Cape Town’.
Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel, 5 Church Square, Parliament Street. Tel (021) 010-6600 www.labotessa.com