Cape Town’s Colorful Bo Kaap Neighborhood

On my last evening in Cape Town, I decided on an early dinner before heading out to explore the neighborhood surrounding my hotel. At dinner, my server asked how long I’d be remaining in Cape Town. He was visibly distraught to find out I was flying back to the USA in the morning and that I had my boy there waiting for me. He asked if I could extend my vacation so he could have enough time to date me and make me his wife. I don’t think he quite understood the concept of loyalty. The remainder of my dinner was slightly awkward and I couldn’t wait to finish up and explore Bo Kaap!

WHAT IS BO KAAP?

Bo Kaap is a multicultural area known for its brightly colored houses; it is the spiritual home of the Cape’s Muslim community and an attraction for many tourists. You will find this little treasure hidden in central Cape Town, tucked safely into the fold of Signal Hill.

I have a weird obsession with both bright colors and photographing doors, so this neighborhood was like a dream come true for me!

..Bo Kaap Neighborhood..Bo Kaap Neighborhood

HISTORY OF BO-KAAP

Bo Kaap has a rich, fascinating history dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves imported to the area from Malaysia, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries by the Dutch. The slaves were referred to as Cape Malays despite not all of them being of Malaysian descent. The name however has stuck and Bo Kaap is now commonly referred to as the Cape Malay Quarter.

Given the gloomy history of the slave-ship, homes in the neighborhood are painted in bright, enthusiastic colors as a way to signify a step forward by the Cape Malay people and to express happiness and optimism. It has since become a tradition throughout the neighborhood which you can see in the photos below.

Bo Kaap Neighborhood

Bo Kaap Neighborhood

Bo Kaap Neighborhood

Bo Kaap Neighborhood

HOW TO GET TO THE BO KAAP NEIGHBORHOOD?

Getting to Bo Kaap is relatively easy. Since my hotel was only a block out from here, I walked. If you’re further out, the easiest and safest way to get to Bo Kaap is by cab. The neighborhood and surrounding area seemed safe enough to me while the sun was up, however I’m not sure how safe it would be after sunset (and I wasn’t willing to find out).

If you are going to make the journey by foot, locate Long Street (it’s just west of Cape Town’s railway station). Walk south along Long Street until you come to Wale Street. Swing a right and follow Wale Street until you get to the brightly painted Georgian terraces and narrow cobble stone streets. You’re now in Bo Kaap – enjoy!

Bo Kaap Neighborhood

Bo Kaap Neighborhood
Bo Kaap Neighborhood
Bo Kaap Neighborhood

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