South Africa

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Cape Town airport, which has recently undergone a modernisation programme, is one of the main entry points for visitors to South Africa. Many hotels offer transfers from the airport into the city, otherwise taxi's are available. Public transport in South Africa is not really geared up for the tourist industry, and can be unreliable, so it is unsurprising that many visitors opt to hire a car for the duration of their stay.

The region of Cape Town is divided into four tourism areas defined by their geographical location; Cape Town Central, Cape Town North, Cape Town South and the Cape Town East. Cape Town, known as South Africa's "Mother City", is the oldest city in the country with a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. This is the birth place of modern South Africa, and the city still contains many historic reminders of its past. One area well worth a visit is Bo Kaap, also known as the Malay quarters. This is a residential area on the slopes of Signal Hill traditionally occupied by people of the Muslim faith, located here are a number of mosques and dwelling places, that are over a hundred years old. One area best avoided due to the high crime rate, are the townships on the Cape Flats. If you feel that you must pay a visit, make sure you do so as part of an organised tour.

The "must do" visits for anyone visiting Cape town is the spectacular Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, with a unique blend of working harbour and international shopping centre, from which you can take the ferry to Robben Island, the former maximum security prison where you can visit the former jail cell of anti-apartheid hero and former president, Nelson Mandela.

Cape Town has a marked European feel to it, which gives visitors the opportunity to experience the excitement of Africa, while still maintaining first world comforts. The city is the focal point of business Within the Western Cape Province, with the Cape Town Metropolitan area accounting for almost three quarters of the Western Cape’s economy.

Cape Town 4The Cultural History Museum, located at 49 Adderly Street, is housed in a building known as Slave Lodge. Built in 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, it is thought to be the second oldest building in Cape Town. Originally this was a single story building that was used to house slaves. In 1810 a second story was added and it became home to the High Court. Today the museum displays many different aspects of Cape Town's historic past, with collections of textiles, jewellery, ceramics, and tools.

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest occupied building in South Africa. Originally constructed by the first European settlers as a timber fort, plans were made to construct what is now the present day structure, when the threat of war between Holland and Britain became immanent, and construction was started in 1665. However just two years later construction was halted when the threat subsided. Building began again in 1671, and was finally completed in 1679. The building has five bastions which are named after titles held by William of Orange; Nassau, Oranje, Leerdam, Buren and Catzenellenbogen. At the time, the castle had an entrance assessable by sea, but this had to be closed due to the threat of flooding, and replaced with the present entrance, noted for its clock tower and carved coat of arms. The Castle now contains many paintings, tapestries, and a collection of fine furniture. During the 1980's and through to the early 1990's, the Castle underwent a major restoration project that restored the castle to its former splendour.

The City Hall. located in Darling Street, was built in 1905, and was once the seat of the local administration. It is now Cape Town's main concert hall, and the site of the city library. Some of the stone for the building was imported from Bath in England. and although now looking a little worn, it still possesses a commanding presence overlooking the Grand Parade. Visitors can visit the clock tower on request. It is here, from a balcony overlooking Darling Street, that Nelson Mandela on his release from prison, gave his historic speech.

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Cape Town