I went to Cape Town City Hall for the first time recently, after calling Cape Town my home for more than four years now… I know, scandalous! Nevertheless, I really appreciated and admired the stunning old structure.
I felt pretty stupid having to ask some colleagues where exactly it was, and having them look at me with such dismay (and a bit of disappointment) in their eyes I decided that I would like to spare you that embarrassment and do some research on this significant landmark so that you can be (or at least sound) informed.
The Cape Town City Hall was built in 1905 (nearly 110 years ago!) as the centre of city administration and as the seat of the Mayor of Cape Town. It is situated slap-bang in the city centre, opposite the Castle of Good Hope and the Grand Parade. If you do not know where these two places are, there is always Google Maps…
Architects Reid & Green reportedly designed it for a public competition and it was built in the Italian Renaissance style with golden Bath stone and is one of the last Victorian-style sandstone structures in the Mother City.
Walking in, you immediately sense the history of the building with mosaic floors, high ceilings, a marble staircase which leads to the organ in the Grand Hall – a pretty suited location if you ask me because that is one darn ‘grand’ organ. It was specifically designed for the hall by Sir George Martin, organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral London, and has more than three thousand pipes. Yikes!
Then there are the stained glass windows… They tell their own story of the building and the amount of design work and effort to produce these beautiful windows is fascinating.
What many people probably remember the City Hall for was Nelson Mandela’s speech just hours after he was released from prison in 1990.
Today the City Hall is home to many cultural events with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra performing there regularly.