+27 84 448 1601 carel@diveinn.co.za

Cape Town City Hall

This iconic building is more renowned for the balcony where Mr Nelson Mandela made his first public address after being released from the Drakenstein Prison. (He was in 18years on Robben Island prison, 6 years in Pollsmoor and the last 3 at Drakenstein previously known as Victor Verster.)

Personally I thought the Balcony was on the 2nd floor but after doing some research I found out it was the area as you get into the grand hall from the steps outside which actually is the 1st floor as the ground level got other entrances.

Cape Town City Hall

Clock tower half the Size of Big Ben in London

Back to the Cape Town City hall situated in Darling Street. This was the 1st Victorian building to be built in Cape Town, some statements say it was the last so quite confusing to which story is to believed. Mayor H Lieberman inaugurated the Cape Town City hall in 1905.

Imported Bath sandstone is showing the wear and tear on front entrance but still stunning. A question is why was the South African sandstone not used and most say it as because of the 2nd world war mining was not the safest outside of Cape Town. However Local Kloof granite (from signal hill quarry) was used for the base work and decorative piers. Other materials used in the city hall, teak frames, Sicilian Marble, terracotta air vents, cast iron pipes and gratings.

The clock rings out the Westminster quarters on 39 bells on the hour on special occasions. Note to self, read up on what this means. The turret clock is also half the scale as Big Ben in Westminster London.

Cape Town City Hall

In the Grand hall the organ boasts with 3165 pipes and is one of the best in South Africa. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra has also been calling this there home for decades.   It is the only concert hall in South Africa that can house a symphony orchestra and a 180 member choir. Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth of England held a grand ball here in 1947 to celebrate her 21st birthday.

Cape Town City Hall

Concert hall with loads of pipes

Once inside the marble stair cases, mosaic floor tiles and wood work is beautiful. Art work here and there, some of the rooms are getting revamped and the wooden floors are being sanded getting rid of the dark polished effect and bring out the nice wood colour. Every fire place looks different and all the rooms have 1 or 2 in. One thing is it can be very warm if there is no wind or breeze through the windows.

Some war memorials are on a stair case and a spot dedicated to Nelson Mandela, Did not see it myself. The building is big with loads of nooks and crannies. It still used by the city for business in some of the ground floor Offices. The top floors are used for functions and meeting with the grand hall for concerts and even big conferences.

Around the building it is also steep in history and a very good walking tour can be done in the area and highly recommended as in a vehicle you miss out on a lot of the small sights.

CApe Town City Hall

Mosaic inlay of Coat of Arms

Note: details obtained from internet sites, some tour guide notes and from hearing stories. Photos taken by Carel. My tour guide teacher told us do not let the facts mess up a good story;-).