If you’re visiting Cape Town for the first time – or simply want to see a different side to this stunning city – then you can’t go wrong with a walk through the vibrant CBD to admire the architecture. Here we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite buildings in the city centre – so follow our guide, get your walking boots on and enjoy the tour!
The Old Mutual
No list of architectural highlights would be complete without the Old Mutual building – located on Darling Street in Cape Town CBD. This 90 metre, 10 storey building is a stunning example of 1940s art deco architecture and design. The triangular windows which run the entire height of the building are particularly eye-catching, and add to its imposing feel. These windows are a great example of beautiful design that also serves a practical function, as the angled glass allows light into the building very effectively.
It features one of the largest stone friezes in the world – the carvings that run along the building can be seen on the Darling, Longmarket and Parliament Street sides, and depict various scenes from South Africa’s colonial history. On the Parliament Street facade you’ll also find several figures carved from granite that stand looking down at pedestrians.
The entrance hall is especially stunning, and can be seen from the pavement on Darling Street. A sweeping staircase runs up from the grand entrance to the original ‘pill box’ which now acts as the concierge desk. The walls are black onyx and adorned with classic, stainless steel light fittings, and the high ceiling is decorated with gold leaf.
Built in 1905, Cape Town’s City Hall is an impressive sandstone structure set amongst towering palm trees situated on the Grand Parade. City Hall makes our list partially because of its history – it was from the balcony here that Nelson Mandela made his first speech to the world after his release from prison, whilst a quarter of a million people flocked to the Grand Parade to celebrate outside. Inside you’ll find intricate mosaic flooring, marble staircases and even a replica of London’s ‘Big Ben’ tower clock.
South African Slave Church Museum
A building with an interesting history, the church at 40 long street was built in 1804, and was the first official ‘slave’ church in South Africa. Today there is a small museum housed on site in which you can find out more about the history of missionary work in the country.
The building is pretty unique in terms of its structure – it was the country’s first building in this particular form – and it has the only surviving example of a steep, lime-concrete roof. On the facade you’ll see pilasters, and beautifully ornate windows. The building was in need of some attention and in the 1970s both the interior and exterior were lovingly restored to their former glory.
The National Library
You’ll find this treasure in Company’s Garden – and it’s renowned as one of the most attractive buildings in the city. It was designed in the style of the Greek Revival by the architect Kohlerit, and you can’t miss the classical influence with the impressive Corinthian columns supporting the pediment. The building was finished in 1860 and renovated in the 1970s.