Cape Town  - Wale Street

Wale Street - Cape Town

St Georges cathedral

St Georges Cathedral

When visiting Cape Town most people find themselves in Wale Street at some time or the other. It is easily found as it is at the top of Adderley Street and runs at right angles to it. Wale Street has a number of interesting buildings in it.

The first building although not directly in Wale Street is the old slave lodge which was built way back in 1660 to house the slaves that were imported into Cape Town to work for the Dutch East India Company. In the photographs the slave lodge is the building at the far end of the street with the shutters. As you can see it has not changed much over the centuries.

Wale Street

Wale Street in the 1800's

At its prime it housed 500 slaves but has served many other purposes since then being converted in 1806 into an office complex where it served as the Supreme court in Cape Town as well as the Post office. Today it is the South African Cultural History Museum.

Wale Street

Wale Street as it is at present

Walking up Wale Street towards Signal Hill the next building which is also on the corner of Wale Street and Adderley Street is the old Board of Executors Building. In the time of van der Stel it was the company hospital and had beds for a 1000 people. Opposite the Board of Executors building is St Georges Cathedral which was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and had its foundations laid in 1901.

The Cathedral has an interesting history which began way back in 1827 when the Bishop of Calcutta visited Cape Town and consecrated land at the bottom of Government avenue for a church. The first St Georges church opened for services on the 21st December 1834. As it had no rector, chaplains conducted the services until Bishop Gray arrived in his newly-created diocese in 1848. The church had been made a cathedral in 1847. Bishop Gray was not happy with the building and over the next 25 years worked hard for a new and better building which is the building you see today.


Monument to Bishop Gray in St Georges mall

In St Georges Mall which is opposite the new cathedral is a red granite cross which was erected in his honour. Opposite the Board of Executors building and the red cross is the old Rhodes building. As most of Cape Town centred around Wale Street in the 1800's this building was in the centre of the business district at the time.

Wale Street today houses many more buildings including the Cape Provincial Adminitration buildings. However these have no historical significance. If we continue up Wale Street we arrive at what is known as the Bo Kaap.

Here Wale Street is lined with many small colourful houses which are inhabited by peoples who are descendents of the slaves and busines people who arrived here from the east back in the days of van der Stel. The area became known as the Malay Quarter over the years but is today known as the Bo Kaap.

 Bo Kaap Museum

Bo Kaap Museum

The residents of the area have established a museum in a house which dates back to the 18th century and was originally owned by Effendi Abu Bakr who was an emissary of the Ottoman Government in Turkey. A visit to the Bo Kaap should include a visit to the Museum. Today however there is much concern in the Bo Kaap as many people are being lured into selling their properties by the high prices being offered. What was once a Muslim stronghold could now become watered down and the Cape could lose an integral part of its cultural history.

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Cape Town - Wale Street