Cape Town - South Africa
Old Gothic Church in Greenmarket Square
Greenmarket Square dates back to 1696 when the first
Burgher Watch House was built there.
The square was known as the Burgher Watch Square at the time.
Guards who patrolled the streets of Cape Town at night to
maintain law and order were housed in the Burgher Watch House.
It is no longer there but in its place is the Old Town House
which was built in 1761 and was originally the Civic Centre
and Council house of Cape Town and was used by the Burgher
Council and Senate as a meeting place.
It later turned into a magistrate's office and then from 1840
till 1905 was used as the the Cape Town City Hall.
Today it houses priceless Dutch and Flemish paintings which
where donated by Sir Max Michael's.
The Burgher Watch Square lost its name when the Civic Centre
was built and it was changed to Stadhuys Plein. (Townhouse plane)
In the early 1800's its name was once again changed,
this time to Greenmarket Square as it is still known today.
The new city hall
In 1905 however the market and the City Hall moved to
the Parade in Cape Town.
Over the years the square has been upgraded and in 1967
cobble stones were laid on the square.
The stones came from Old Dock Road and Castle Street
which were upgraded.
All the stones are granite and were dressed by hand.
Something that would be very expensive to do today.
Many of the other buildings in the square also date
back to the 1860's.
One of them is the Holiday Inn. It was originally a
townhouse and was the only one that was not demolished.
It was used by the Shell Oil Company as their Head Office
in Cape Town until 1979 and was then converted to a 170 room
hotel which is still there today.
The Methodist Church on the square was built in 1871 and is
decorated in a Gothic Revivalist style for those
who know what that means.
In any event the church is still there today on the
south side of the square.
Another old building is the Protea Life building which
is situated on the eastern side of the square.
In the earlier days of the square's history it was used
as a market place. This still happens today as many of the
small shops and restaurants around the square have extended
themselves onto the pavements and serve customers there.
The market of old has become a flea market and one can buy
clothing and all sorts of bric a brac at the various stalls.
In the past the rich and important people of the old Cape Town
used to stroll around to the various stalls to make their purchases.
Today, however, you will find all types visiting and
haggling with the stall holders.
The square is always abuzz and vibrant and is one of
Cape Town's tourist attractions.
Greenmarket Square is one of the oldest in Cape Town and
was declared a National Monument in 1961, which means that
it will keep its character for future generations.
When visiting Cape Town take a stroll through Cape Town's
oldest square and let the history of it fill you as you
wander about through the stalls and old buildings.
See you there soon.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Cape Town - Green Market Square
Page updated 17.5.2015