About the Bo-Kaap

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Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

Like the colorful houses that line its streets, the Bo-Kaap has a colourful history.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

Lying on the lower slopes of Signal Hill, in the shadow of Lion’s Head, this historic, multi-cultural suburb in Cape Town, is a sight for sore eyes. Brightly painted houses, characteristic of Dutch and British architecture, line narrow cobble-stoned streets.  Many are national monuments.

Bo-Kaap houses

Bo-Kaap houses

Interspersed amongst them are quaint, picturesque mosques, including South Africa’s oldest mosque, the Auwal (meaning first) Mosque, which was built in 1798.

Mosque in Bo-Kaap

Mosque in Bo-Kaap

The name Bo-Kaap means “above the Cape.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

Most of the residents are descendants of slaves who were brought to the Cape by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Asian (and African) countries. There were traders, religious scholars, skilled craftsmen, artisans and convicts too.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

They brought their religion, cuisine, culture and language with them. I realised this to a great extent when I visited Malaysia and heard words in use that I normally associate with the Cape Malay community.

Bo-Kaap

Sign spotted in Bo-Kaap

The houses are painted in vivid shades of vibrant colours and make the Bo-Kaap one of the main attractions in Cape Town. Tourists can always be found snapping their cameras in the area. Besides taking photos, one can also go on guided tours, visit the mosques and museums, enjoy a Cape Malay cooking experience or eat at one of the local restaurants.

Bo-Kaap

Mosque in Bo-Kaap

There are many theories about the origins of the bright colours but the most popular one seems to be as follows. Residents were previously restricted in the colours they were allowed to use during the apartheid era and when apartheid ended they painted their houses in bright, cheerful colours to express their joy and newly-found freedom. They often re-paint their houses in celebration of Eid, and usually after consulting with their neighbours.

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20 comments
Manuel

Really fine post. I adore this site. Keep it up.

Reply
Foz

Wow!! Loving all the colours!! Although think that pink would give me a headache!!

Reply
Nadine

You want to spend a few days right in the middle if it? book one of the fabulous rooms at Rouge on Rose , boutique hotel, a fabulous place with great hosts at a very reasonable price.

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks for the suggestion Nadine. Will have a look at it the next time I’m in the area.

    Reply
sahar

omg are these places for real?? gorgeous pictures… really enjoyed reading this :)I can only imagine what a wonderful community to put up that sign! how were the locals?

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Sahar. It does look like a make-believe world but the locals are authentic, friendly and welcoming.

    Reply
Random Bytes From Life

MashaAllah, what attractive pictures and beautiful, colorful little houses! I would love to visit this place, seems like out of a story book… full of fascination 🙂

Reply
    Sara

    It’s a fascinating place. Do come visit soon!

    Reply
The Gutless Ninja

MashaAllah what a beautiful sight! The Masjid looks so fresh and pretty. Fascinating bit of background info for this beautiful place, thank you for sharing it with us. Definitely adding SA to my holiday list, I hope I get to visit one day inshaAllah.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you! South Africa has many beautiful places. Do come visit soon!

    Reply
thequintessentialhousewife

Love the place! Its so vibrant and colourful. I wish i could take a walk down the streets one day InshAllah.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you thequintessentialhousewife. Hopefully you will be able to walk down that street soon!

    Reply
ChristalBlogs

These houses are beautiful mashaAllah, really vibrant. Defo adding this to my holiday list inshaAllah

Reply
    Sara

    That would be awesome ChristalBlogs. Do come visit soon.

    Reply
Shahneela Shamim

Wow beautiful places… everything looks so out of the world..

Reply
    Sara

    I agree – it looks like a make-believe world.

    Reply
Aisha Id

I want to take a walk down this street every day! MashAllah so colourful 😀

Reply
    Sara

    I think it would lift ones spirits to walk in such a colourful street everyday!

    Reply
Britdeshimummy

I want the pink house! Lol I love all the colours!

Reply
    Sara

    You can have the pink house – I’ll take the purple one 😉

    Reply
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