Cape Town - Cape of Storms

Adderley Street
Cape Town

Statue of Jan van Riebeeck

Statue of Jan van Riebeeck

The city centre has many streets that have been there since the times of Jan van Riebeeck. Adderley Street is the main street of Cape Town and it starts from the Heerengracht near the entrance to Table Bay Harbour and ends in Government Avenue, a street lined with oak trees which runs along the boundary of the Company gardens. It was first called the Heerengracht by the Dutch and started at the entrance to the Castle of Good Hope.

In 1850 the name was changed to Adderley Street when the British Government was coerced into diverting a convict ship bound for Cape Town to Tasmania. Sir Charles Adderley championed the cause of the Cape Colonists and was presented with a 100 pounds by the Municipality of Cape Town for his work. The Heerengracht name was then dropped and replaced with Adderley Street. Over the past few years there have been attempts to once again change the name of Adderley Street to Mandela Street but this ended up in the courts and nothing came of it. To find out what Adderley Street has to offer we will do a walking tour of it starting on the Foreshore. For those who don't know the Foreshore is a portion of land at the bottom end of Adderley street that has been reclaimed from the sea.

Bridges on the Foreshore

Some of the bridges built on the Foreshore

A number of bridges have been built on the Foreshore to form a ring road around Cape Town. The City failed to complete the project and many of them end in mid air. Today they are a tourist attraction and have also become quite popular with the film industry especially for motor car stunts. They have not been named but a good name for them might be “The Hanging Bridges of Cape Town”


The lower portion of Adderley Street is today known as the Heerengracht.

On the north west side of the Heerengracht much building has been going on of late with a number of 5 star hotels and the Convention Centre being built there. This portion of the road has six traffic lanes with an island down the middle. At present trees are being planted to smarten up the area in the vicinity of the Convention Centre.

Where Coen Steytler avenue joins the Heerengracht from the north west there is a large traffic circle assisting the movement of traffic. From this circle onwards you will find many large buildings on both sides of the road. They are utilised as banks and business centres and the American Embassy is also housed in one of them near Hertzog Boulevard.


The fountain at the bottom end of Adderley Street near the station

From the circle at the Heerengracht to the fountain near the station there is a large grassed island in the centre of the road. This is often used by workers during there lunch hours to have a snooze in the sun.

About 500 metres from the first traffic circle is another one. This circle has a large fountain built on it. The height of the spray is determined by the strength of the wind.The Cape Town Station is on your left and here you will find many people selling their wares on the pavements.A whole spectrum of goods including food can be bought from these stalls. Many of the people running the stalls are not South African but from the Congo. Some of them have University degrees but as they cannot find work have resorted to street selling to make a living.

There is a flea market on the Adderley Street side of the station. Opposite the station are more large buildings housing shops etc and on the centre island there is a statue of Jan van Riebeeck.

We now reach the interesting part of the walk. Strand Street (beach road) used to be the street that ran along the former shores of Cape Town. To the east about a kilometre along Strand Street is the Castle of the Cape Of Good Hope and the Grand Parade. This parade ground extended all the way to Adderley Street at one time but has since been downsized a bit with the buildings that have sprung up along its edges.

The Castle used to be the offices of the former governors of the Cape and the Administrative centre of Cape Town.

At the corner of Strand and Adderley Street you will see the Good Hope Centre a large office block covered with glass. Underneath this building canals and other interesting buildings were discovered when they were excavating the site. You can see some of them as you walk through the building which has shopping malls on its ground and first floors.

The whole area from the Station to St Georges Mall and underneath the intersection of Strand and Adderley streets has been excavated and one can enjoy shopping in the underground malls which are full of shops. You can enter them from Adderley Street, Golden Acre and the station and St George's mall which is the next street to the north west of Adderley Street.

Continuing up Adderley Street we come to Trafalgar Place where you will find the flower sellers of Cape Town. They have used this spot since the 1860's to sell flowers.Have a chat to them, you will find them most entertaining to speak to.

The next building of interest is the Standard Bank building which borders on Trafalgar Place.It was designed by Charles Freeman and was built in 1880. Opposite the Standard Bank is the First National Bank Building which was designed in 1936 by Sir Herbert Baker. One of the last of the hundreds of buildings he designed in South Africa. Close by, around the corner in Bureau Street you will find the Grootte Kerk. This church although Dutch Reformed was also used by the Church of England.

Cross over Bureau Street and on your left is the green shuttered SA Cultural History Museum now known as the Slave Lodge Museum which incorporates the foundations of the Old Slave lodge built by the Dutch East India Company in 1679. After the second occupation of the Cape by the British the building was used as Admin offices as the Castle had become too small. It became the Supreme Court in 1815 and was utilised as the court until 1915. The first Post Office in Cape Town was opened in the building in 1840. On the back of the building is a triangular pediment with an exhausted looking lion hanging over the cornice.This represents the worn out British Government at the end of the Napoleonic wars. We have now reached the upper end of Adderley Street and the entrance to Government Avenue.

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