The Bo-Kaap is definitely the most colourful part of Cape Town and a great place to explore. This part of the city is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, just above the city centre. If you are studying at Oxford English Academy in Cape Town, this colourful treasure will be just a 10 minute walk from your classrooms.
Follow Wale Street uphill until you reach the brightly painted Georgian terraces, where you can wander down the narrow cobbled streets for hours. I would recommend joining one of the many tours if this is your first visit as the tour guides will be able to teach you a lot about the Cape history and the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood.
The colourful Bo-Kaap with its romantic cobble stoned streets is actually a multicultural area, very rich in history. You might have heard locals refer to the area as the “Cape Malay Quarter”. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. These slaves were known as “Cape Malays” and this is where the name originated.
These steep streets are all lined with colourful traditional houses, painted in vibrant colours. Not only do they look cheerful but the people who live here are also very friendly. The people are more than willing to talk to you and to tell you a bit about the area and the history if you ask. You will also be surprised to find out that the owners often change the colours of their brightly painted houses and what is today a bright pink might be a pale blue house next year, so the streets never look the same.
While the majority of Bo-Kaap’s residents are still of Cape Malay origin, the housing boom in the past fifteen years has seen an influx of foreigners buying up the beautiful, quaint, historical homes.
But despite this the residents are still a very close knit community and help each other out and work together to keep their neighbourhood safe.