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The Bo-Kaap (“above the Cape" in Afrikaans) is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former racially segregated area, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town.
- 0.95 km² (0.37 sq mi)
- +27 (0)21
- South Africa
The Bo-Kaap Heritage Walking Tour with a traditional tea break (From $44.20) Cape of Good Hope and Penguins Full-Day Tour From Cape Town (From $48.46) Cape Town City Private tour (From $70.83) See all Bo-kaap experiences on Tripadvisor.
- Cape Town Central
Bo-Kaap. Hidden in central Cape Town is the Bo-Kaap, just beyond the hassles and bustle, you will find this little treasure which is an attraction for many holidaymakers. Bo Kaap Museum.
- Bo-Kaap’S Early History
- The District During Apartheid
- Things to Do & See
- Cape Malay Cuisine
- How to Visit Bo-Kaap
- Practical Advice & Information
- Top Tips
The Bo-Kaap neighborhood was first developed in the 1760s by Dutch colonialist Jan de Waal, who built a series of small rental houses to provide accommodation for the city’s Cape Malay slaves. The Cape Malay people originated from the Dutch East Indies (including Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia), and were exiled by the Dutch to the Cape as slaves towards the end of the 17th century. Some of them were convicts or slaves in their home countries; but others were political prisoners from wealthy, influential backgrounds. Almost all of them practiced Islam as their religion. According to legend, the rental terms of de Waal’s houses stipulated that their walls must be kept white. When slavery was abolished in 1834 and the Cape Malay slaves were able to purchase their homes, many of them chose to paint them in bright colors as an expression of their newfound freedom. Bo-Kaap (which was originally called Waalendorp) became known as the Malay Quarter, and Islamic traditions became an intri...
During the apartheid era, Bo-Kaap was subject to the Group Areas Act of 1950, which enabled the government to segregate the population by declaring separate neighborhoods for each race or religion. Bo-Kaap was designated as a Muslims-only area, and people of other religions or ethnicities were forcibly removed. In fact, Bo-Kaap was the only area of Cape Town in which Cape Malay people were allowed to live. It was unique in that it was one of the few city center locations designated for non-whites: most other ethnicities were relocated to townships on the city’s outskirts.
There is plenty to see and do in Bo-Kaap. The streets themselves are famous for their eye-catching color scheme, and for their fine Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian architecture. The oldest existing building in Bo-Kaap was built by Jan de Waal in 1768, and now houses the Bo-Kaap Museum – an obvious starting place for any new visitor to the neighborhood. Furnished like the house of a wealthy 19th-century Cape Malay family, the museum offers an insight into the life of the early Cape Malay settlers; and an idea of the influence that their Islamic traditions have had on Cape Town’s art and culture. The area’s Muslim heritage is also represented by its numerous mosques. Head to Dorp Street to visit Auwal Mosque, which dates back to 1794 (before religious freedom was granted in South Africa). It is the country’s oldest mosque, and home to a hand-written copy of the Quran created by Tuan Guru, the mosque’s first imam. Guru wrote the book from memory during his time as a political prison...
After visiting the neighborhood’s historic sights, make sure to sample its famous Cape Malay cuisine – a unique blend of Middle Eastern, South East Asian and Dutch styles. Cape Malay cooking uses plenty of fruit and spices, and includes fragrant curries, rootis and samoosas, all of which can be purchased at several Bo-Kaap street stalls and restaurants. Two of the most authentic eating places are Bo-Kaap Kombuis and Biesmiellah, both of which serve staples like denningvleis and bobotie (the unofficial national dish of South Africa). For dessert, try a koeksister – a spiced, plaited donut cooked in syrup and sprinkled with coconut. If you want to recreate the recipes you taste in Bo-Kaap at home, stock up on ingredients at the neighborhood’s biggest spice shop, Atlas Spices. Be aware that traditional Bo-Kaap restaurants like the ones listed above are halal and strictly alcohol-free. Wash your meal down with one of South Africa's signature non-alcoholic drinks, then head to a bar in a...
Unlike some of Cape Town’s poorer areas, Bo-Kaap is safe to visit independently. It’s a five-minute walk from the city center, and a 10-minute drive from the V&A Waterfront (the city’s main tourist area). The easiest way to find yourself at the heart of Bo-Kaap is to walk along Wale Street to the Bo-Kaap Museum. After exploring the museum’s fascinating exhibits, spend an hour or two getting lost in the scenic side streets that surround the main thoroughfare. Before you go, consider purchasing this audio walking tour by Bo-Kaap local Shereen Habib. You can download it to your smartphone for just $3.99, and use it to locate and learn about the area’s top attractions. Those that want the expertise of a real-life guide should join one of the city’s many Bo-Kaap walking tours. Free Walking Tours Cape Town offers a popular free walking tour (though you’ll want to bring cash to tip the guide). It departs twice daily from Motherland Coffee Company and visits Bo-Kaap highlights including Auw...
Bo-Kaap Museum is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm Mondays through Saturdays, with the exception of certain public holidays. Expect to pay a R20 entrance fee for adults, and a R10 entrance fee for children aged six to 17. Kids under five go free. Tana Baru Cemetery is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you would like to stay in the Bo-Kaap area, we recommend Rouge on Rose. Located a four-minute walk from the Bo-Kaap Museum, it's ranked as one of the best guesthouses in the city and offers spectacular Lion's Head views, flawless service and cooked-to-order breakfasts.
If you decide to explore Bo-Kaap independently, bear in mind that this neighborhood (like most areas of the city) is safest during daylight hours. If you plan on being there after dark, don't walk the streets by yourself – rather book a taxi or go with a group. Ladiesshould dress conservatively in Bo-Kaap, in line with Muslim custom. In particular, you will need to cover your chest, legs and shoulders if you plan on entering any of the area’s mosques, while a headscarf carried in your bag is also a good idea.
Mar 20, 2018 · The Bo-Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town has a rich and multicultural history. Formally known as the Malay Quarter, the district is rooted in Malaysian, African, Indian and Sri Lankan culture, largely a result of the descendants of the slaves who were brought over by Dutch imperialists in the 16th and 17th centuries.
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Cape Town, South Africa Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, Bo Kaap is a colorfully-painted suburb located in the “Mother City” of South Africa.
- Lew Blank
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