After turning right on Buitengracht street, the changes were obvious. The busy tree-lined asphalt road, with businessmen crossing the street on their way to the office, elegantly dressed women driving flashy cars gave way to cobble-stoned streets, century-old low-rise buildings, women with colourful dresses, and small mosques. Furthermore, as the buildings are low in the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, and the area is built against the eastern slopes of Signal Hill, views of Table Moutain, Lion Head and Signal Hill are open from many areas in the Bo-Kaap area.
Walking up Wale Street, the artery of Bo-Kaap and its direct link to the rest of Cape Town, the buzz of the city quickly dies down. Bo-Kaap has the feel of a town, with modest shops, groups of a few guys hanging out at a corner, quiet corners and verandas, small houses lined up on romantic cobble-stone streets. Moreover, it stands out in Cape Town because of its Muslim character. Here you will not find churches, but small mosques with elegant minarets, men with muslim hats, women with robes you can also see in the Middle East. You can also hear the call to prayer coming from the minarets. The further you walk into the Bo-Kaap quarter, the quieter it becomes, the less people you see - until you get the impression that you are walking in an open-air museum.
The history of Bo-Kaap goes back to the times the Dutch were in charge in South Africa in the 17th and 18th century. Slaves were not just taken from Africa, but also came from Asia: Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia. The district is also known as the Malay Quarter, even though the Malays are but a small minority in Bo-Kaap. During the apartheid era, the quarter became almost exclusively Muslim, and while the number of Muslims might now be decreasing, it is still an area of a rapidly changing Cape Town with a characteristic and unique feel all its own.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bo-Kaap (South Africa). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bo-Kaap.
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