14 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cape Town

Cool and quirky lesser-known truths about the Mother City By
Georgina Selander

Think you’re clued up on all there is to know about the Mother
City? Think again! There’s a whole heap of quirky little titbits of
info about our pretty metropolis that you’re unlikely to be
familiar with. So, in an effort to keep you on your toes, we’ve
compiled an overview of 14 fun facts about Cape Town, at least some
of which we’re sure you’ve never heard before.


1. Cape Town is South Africas tobogganing hub
Fancy slipping and sliding downhill in a sled? The Mother City is
the place to do it. Although over 300 tobogganing tracks exist
worldwide, Cape Town is home to the only one in Africa, aptly
titled Cool Runnings after the film about Jamaicas first bobsled
team. If you’re keen on visiting, youll find the track just 25km
outside of the city centre on Carl Cronje Drive.

2. Two couples get hitched on Table Mountain every month
Our precious flat-topped mountain began forming around 280 million
years ago, and today, it’s still evolving! The cableway, on the
other hand, was erected in 1929 and was originally constructed from
wood and steel (sounds pretty dangerous to us, but there have been
no accidents on it as of yet). Another fun fact: it’s estimated
that two couples get hitched on the mountain every month. Wowzers!
And did we mention that the Table Mountain National Park, which
spans an area of 22,000 hectares, boasts more plant species than
the British Isles or New Zealand?

3. The Castle of Good Hope once had a sea view
Cape Town’s famous landmark the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest
colonial building in South Africa, having been built between 1666
and 1679. The structure, which was once a fort, served as a
welcoming port for sailors travelling around the Cape, an often
arduous journey. Despite popular belief, it was not built by Jan
van Riebeeck; although, a temporary clay and wooden fort was built
during his time at the now Golden Acre shopping centre. Though the
years have reshaped the Castle’s surrounding landscape, it is hard
to imagine that at one time the star-shaped building had waves
lapping at the entry point (the entrance was later moved for this
very reason)! Today, the castle exists as a ceremonial base for
Cape regiments of the South African Defence Force.

4. The Mother City is host to the mother of all queer parties
Cape Town is home to the largest dress-to-theme costume party in
South Africa, the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP), which also
happens to be one of the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and queer (LGBTQ) annual events on the African

5. Lion’s Head wasn’t actually named for its felines. Despite
speculation, Lion’s Head does not take its name from being host to
some big cats. The story goes that during the 17th century Dutch
settlers named the peak Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head) and its adjacent
summit Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s Tail aka Signal Hill as it’s known
today). It was thought that the space between the two peaks is
suggestive of a crouching lion.

6. The Cape Floral Kingdom claims nearly 7000 plants found nowhere
else in the world.
The Cape Floral Kingdom, which spans 90,000sq km, is the smallest
and richest recognised floral area on the planet and was declared
a world heritage site by UNESCO’s committee. Of the 9600 species of
plant life which is found in this kingdom, around 70% occur nowhere
else in the world. These include the likes of the honey buchu,
peninsula snapdragon and Good Hope satinflower.

7. The Cape Peninsula was originally known as the Cape of Storms As
a result of the terrible tempests that have been known to rock the
Mother City’s coastline, the Cape Peninsula was originally
nicknamed the Cape of Storms by legendary explorer Bartholomew
Dias. Later, it became known as the Cape of Good Hope because it
offered colonial powers the promise of a sea route to the East.

8. Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language in the Western
Cape. Despite being one of the youngest languages in the world,
Afrikaans is the most widely spoken tongue in the Western Cape,
with isiXhosa and English racking up second and third places.
Another fun fact about local demography? According to the 2011
population census, the Western Cape populace has a (slightly)
feminine edge, with 50.9% of us being women. Girl power!

9. Dr Christiaan Barnard’s groundbreaking surgery was bittersweet.
While most are familiar with the fact that Dr Christiaan Barnard
performed the first-ever heart transplant in 1967 at Groote Schuur
Hospital, not so many know that his patient passed away shortly
after. Sadly, Mr Louis Washkansky, the man who received the
revolutionary cardiac surgery, lived only 18 days post operation
due to the onset of pneumonia. The original theatre where the
awe-inspiring act took place is today a museum, aptly named Heart
of Cape Town.

10. Cape Town was appointed the best place in the world to visit by
the New York Times in 2014. The Mother City racked up some serious
awards in 2014: our pretty city was named the best place in the
world to visit by The New York Times, appointed World Design
Capital 2014, featured second in Travel and Leisure’s list of top
holiday destinations and deemed the second best African city to
visit by TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travellers Choice awards. Similarly,
did you know that in 2013 the UK publication The Guardian named the
Sea Point swimming pool one of the top ten swimming pools in the

11. We’re all young here!
The 2011 national census reports that almost half (43.2%) of the
Western Cape’s population is below the age of 25, it seems the city
is a fountain of youth! If you find the location of this
age-defying waterspout, let us know!

12. Cape Town nearly followed in Australia’s footsteps.
Adderley Street, the iconic Cape Town street that is today famous
for its flower and fruit-and-veg sellers, took its name from Mr
Charles B. Adderley, who passionately protested against a plan by
the British government to turn Cape Town into a convict colony.
History books have it that the road was originally made entirely
from wooden blocks, but these were ultimately covered over with tar
to make the road we know today. Remnants of these wooden tiles can
still be found towards the upper end of the street today. So keep
your eyes peeled next time you’re in search of a beautiful bouquet
in the city centre!

13. Cape Town has the country’s highest number of homes valued at
more than R20 million.
Business Day recently reported that while Jozis home to most of
South Africa’s wealthiest (48% live in the City of Gold), the
Mother City has more trophy homes – houses valued at over R20
million. Furthermore, it seems that the most sought-after spot of
turf for those living it lush is Camps Bay, where there are 155
properties valued at more than R20 million.

14. Cape Town is the most equal city in South Africa.
Though the ANC and DA might never come to consensus over who will
most effectively run the Western Cape, both the UN-Habitat’s (the
United Nations agency for human settlement) 2010/11 and 2012/2013
State of the World’s Cities reports concluded that Cape Town is the
most equal of all South African cities. According to the account,
which looks at income inequality, the three cities topping the
inequality list are Buffalo City (East London), Johannesburg and
Ekurhuleni (East Rand).

Blogger Barry: Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
use the comment and follow buttons.

Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
Motivational speaker, Guest & Key note speaker, Seminar &
Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,

For your Strategic Planning sessions, Management or Sales meetings,
Conferences and/or Seminars, Award functions, Year end parties,
Christmas parties,

Cape Town, South Africa.

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