“The Mother City of South Africa is a bridge which connects us to the whole world.” – Gregory da Silva
Many places lay claim to the title ‘most beautiful city in the world’, but few make the case quite as admirably as the cultural mecca of Cape Town. Built along the rim of the gorgeous Table Bay, the city offers some of the best of the nation, in sights, people and sheer experiences. If the pictures alone aren’t enough to convince you to visit as soon as possible, here’s a bit more on what makes it so special.
It’s almost too easy to talk about Table Mountain when you’re talking about Cape Town. Sure, the mountain is iconic, one of the great vistas of the world, a staggeringly huge plateau with an incredible view of the sea and the city. Hikers can take an exhausting but safe trip up the side, while the rest of us can enjoy a comfortable cable car to the summit. But despite being the crown jewel of Cape Town’s skyline, there’s plenty more to see. Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak are scenic mountains for the avid photographer or dedicated hiker alike. Outside the city limits, the continent snakes southward to the Cape of Good Hope, the point of which marks the very edge of Africa. The veldt is a living portrait of life, and it’s as scenic a place to visit as any.
Cape Town is something of a microcosm of South Africa, a reflection of the multicultural land in all its beauty and complexity. At the heart of Cape Town lies the art and culture of South Africa’s vastly diverse cultural influences, from the native Xhosa and Zulu (and others) to the colonist legacies of the Dutch Afrikaans and the imperial British, as well as the hybrid ethnicities formed from the intermingling of these many groups, and shaped by their difficult history. The brightly colored walls of Bo Kaap are the first landmark of the Cape’s lingering Islamic influences, rushing down the city bowl to the town’s center. Capetonians are an inviting bunch, and between the countless museums, tours and cultural events, it’s quite easy to get lost in the city- in a good way.
South Africa’s past is neither simple nor unblemished, though few nations can claim differently- but the nation’s proximity to the challenges of the near past has been met with a drive to understand and display that history, rather than shy away from it. Robben Island remains a testament to the cruelty of racism and totalitarianism, but also the power of the human spirit, and the will to overcome those evils. In addition to the powerful lessons one can learn from a trip to Cape Town, there’s also the pure fascination that comes with well-preserved architecture, monuments and city fixtures. The history of the city is built into its walls and kept alive by its people, and it’s really something to see.
Cape Town is an incredible place, and there’s enough in the city alone to spend a lifetime exploring. But, even if you only have a week or a weekend, it’s an amazing place to experience.
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