Not Just Food and Wine - History Too

Cape Times (South Africa), December 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Not Just Food and Wine - History Too


WE know the Cape is beautiful, we know there is loads to do, indoor and out. Food and wine tend to dominate our time exploring this stunning region, but Cape Town is not just a holiday town, it is a city rich in history, heritage and culture.

From the arrival of the Khoi San to the discovery and colonisation by early European Settlers, and the importing of slaves from the East Indies, to the arrival of the English in the early 1800s - all of this has left us with a multi-cultural metropolis we find ourselves in today.

The Cape's many museums celebrate this diverse and fascinating history of our troubled but interesting past and anyone looking to discover the Cape Town behind the sea and mountains should visit a museum or three.

Iziko South African Museum

A fascinating look at Southern Africa's distant past. Established in 1825, it is the country's second oldest scientific institute. It holds an extensive collection of natural history objects, documenting life in all its forms, both living and extinct.

The planetarium next door to the Iziko SA Museum is a modern gateway to the stars and universe and its realistic "night sky" is a big hit with children and adults, and offers a virtual experience which is both entertaining and educational.

Situated in the Company's Garden at the top of Queen Victoria Street it has long been one of Cape Town's more popular tourist attractions and is regularly visited by school groups and tourist troops. It's open to the public daily from 10am to 5pm except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Adults pay R10 to enter and children pay R5. Call 021 481 3800 for information.

District Six Museum

District Six was once a vibrant and diverse community, where artisans and traders mixed with immigrants and labourers.

This cultural hot spot was filled with sound and colour until the apartheid government declared it a white area under the Group Areas Act, and forcibly removed 60 000 residents to the outlying Cape Flats.

Today the museum serves as a memory to those times, both the tragic and the celebratory.

It reminds us what existed and what ceased to exist.

It also educates through its collections, exhibitions and educational programmes.

The museum is located at 25A Buitenkant Street and is open Mondays from 9am to 3pm and Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9am to 4pm. Call 021 466 7200 for more information.

Bo Kaap Museum

Take a stroll through the Bo Kaap, the Muslim Quarter with its brightly painted houses just above the city and you will see a real community.

By "real community", I mean people who live together and share in each others lives.

Neighbours chat across low walls and kids play in the streets.

Delicious smells waft out of open doors as worshippers return in traditional dress from evening prayers at the local mosques.

The Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum, established in 1978 is a tribute to this community and its beliefs and culture.

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