Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buildings along the Company Gardens

As I have mentioned in my previous post, several Cape Town's most significant historical buildings can be found along the Company Gardens as one walks down Government Avenue.

At the bottom entrance to the Gardens are Church Square and the Slave Lodge.  The Slave Lodge was built in 1679 by the Dutch East India Company and housed thousands of slaves during the time when slavery meant big business for the Cape Colony.   In 1810, after the British had taken over, the building became the Supreme Court and in 1914 was turned into government offices.  In 1966 the Slave Lodge was turned into a museum, paying tribute to the past and containing historical displays on the Cape as well as a collection of antiquities and artefacts from around the world.  Slavery was officially abolished in the Cape in 1838.  The statue was erected in 1920 and is that of  parliamentarian Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr who was recognised for his efforts to have Dutch recognised as a language (on the same footing with English) in the Constitution of 1910.

Probably the most impressive buildings along the Company Gardens are the South African House of Parliament buildings.  Cape Town is South Africa's legislative capital while Pretoria is the administrative capital.  The House of Parliament buildings were  original designed by Charles Freeman who miscalculated the foundations and was replaced.  Constructions was overseen by Henry Greaves and completion in 1885 with the new House of Assembly being designed by Sir Herbert Baker.  Guided tours can be done through the House of Parliament during the week and visitors can also buy tickets to sit in the public gallery during parliamentary sessions certain parts of the year.
Next to the House of Parliament is Tuynhuys, the office of the President.  This beautiful building was originally built in 1700 as a residence for important visitors to the Cape.  It has been used as an official residence by almost all the governors of the Cape - Dutch, Batavian and British - and by State Presidents after the country became a Republic in 1961. 

Towards the top of Government Avenue opposite the South African Museum on Government Avenue is the South African National Gallery.  The National Gallery began with a presentation of some 45 paintings by Thomas Butterworth Bayley in 1871, and since then has grown to one of international stature and houses some of the most beautiful collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art in South Africa.


  1. Some fascinating places there - I don't recall ever going to this area when I lived in Cape Town so I enjoyed seeing the buildings and learning more about them from your post.

  2. More places I'll have to visit during my next visit. I enjoy learning about the history of a place.