Cape Town - Greenmarket Square

Greenmarket Square
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.


Contact Details
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










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