Public spaces in Cape Town
It’s no secret that Cape Town draws investors, professionals, tourists and students for the unique lifestyle that it offers. From a nightlife built on world-class restaurants and nightclubs, to gorgeous natural scenery and a thriving creative scene, it’s a city like no other. But something that is often overlooked by residents and visitors is the city’s effort to assert itselfas a people-friendly environment, and it achieves this with its fantastic array of public spaces. Cities and big towns run the risk of isolating their populations due to a shortage of public
facilities that promote a sense of community. No man is an island, and it’s not healthy when the only places where see our fellow man is at the supermarket, in the office or across the bar counter. For people to feel secure and happy in societies, it is crucial that shared spaces and
facilities where people can convene exist. Read on to find out more about some of Cape Town’s best public spaces.
De Waal Park
Nestled at the foot of the new(er) Molteno Reservoir in the heart of Oranjezicht with Table Mountain as a backdrop, De Waal Park is home to 120 different species of trees and spans an area of more than seven hectares.
The park is over one hundred years old and, with the old Art Nouveau style wall that borders Camp Street all the way down to Upper Orange Street, is an iconic part of the upper city bowl.
Though more quiet throughout the week (when everyone is working or in class), De Waal Park becomes a bubbly community space on weekends. Locals and visitors bring their picnic blankets, family, friends and dogs to socialise on the massive stretches of green grass all along the quaint little winding pathways adorned with pretty street lamps and park benches. The young ones are kept busy at the children’s playing area, while the Gardens Tennis Club situated across the park’s northern border is home to sporty residents and visitors.
On days like these, the park truly captures the essence of what makes Cape Town such a special place: its people. A local organisation also launched Concerts in the Park a few years ago. It’s an initiative that sees some of South Africa’s biggest musical acts play free shows in the park on Sundays on the old bandstand, and anyone is welcome to attend.
Sea Point Promenade
Starting in Bantry Bay and spanning 11 kilometers parallel to Beach Road and the coast all the way through Fresnaye, Sea Point and Three Anchor Bay to where it ends in Mouille Point, the Sea Point Promenade is arguably the area’s most famous landmark.
After the local bath house – which was situated on the Sea Point coast – was destroyed by a storm in 1911, construction started on what was known as the Sea Point Pavilion in 1913. You can read more about the fascinating history of the area here . It was completed in 1924 and consisted of a stage, tea room and outdoor cinema, all intended for public use. Over the past century, the promenade has expanded considerably and today boasts a putt-putt course, various children’s play areas, tide pools, and a common. The Sea Point Pavilion today serves as a lookout point with food vendors and is now adjacent to the Sea Point Pavilion Swimming Pool . Beach Road is also home to various famous restaurants and bars.
From early morning to evening, the promenade is alive with joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders due to its flat surface. The odd busker and street performance artist is also to be encountered, and the promenade often hosts public art exhibitions.
The beaches along the Sea Point Promenade are often utilised by sunbathers and even surfers and divers, although it is strongly discouraged for those not familiar with the area to go too deep into the water.
Sea Point along with the entire Atlantic Seaboard has grown into a high density population over the past fifty years, and when you pay a visit to the Promenade and breathe in the crisp Cape sea air and old-worldly, grand atmosphere, you yourself might never want to leave.
The Company’s Garden
Possibly the most historically diverse location in the city, the old Company’s Garden was originally a vegetable garden planted by the Dutch East India Company when the early European settlers established themselves in Table Bay to supply passing ships with fresh water,
produce and livestock.
Today, the Company’s Garden borders the back of Parliament and the Tuynhuys, and also the South African National Gallery and Iziko South African Museum . Visitors to the garden can enjoy the incredible diversity of vegetation, numerous green lawns, winding pathways, fish pond and outdoor bird cage entirely free of charge.If you feel like having a bite to eat or a cup of coffee, the Company’s Garden Restaurant comes highly recommended.
But wait, there’s more!
Although the aforementioned public spaces are well known and always worth a visit, don’t forget to check out Cape Town’s numerous world class beaches ( Clifton immediately comes to mind) and organise a hike in the mountains. To find other hikers and organise hiking parties, you can join this group on Facebook. And remember, the streets and sidewalks of the city are public spaces too, and intended for exploring all the weird and wonderful characters, sights, sounds and smells that Cape Town has to offer.
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