Bo-Kaap, a rainbow of facades to bring up the past

Bo-Kaap, a rainbow of facades to bring up the past

Enter the Malay district and lose yourself in its charming cobblestone streets. A journey through time…

Yellow, red, orange, blue, green the brightly painted Bo-Kaap facades are probably the most photographed in Cape Town, especially those on Chiappini, Rose, and Wale Streets. The area did not always have reason to be so cheerful.

Slaves, prisoners, and political exiles, mostly Muslims, settled here as of 1658, with many freed slaves arriving after 1834. They began to call this neighbourhood ‘Malay' at this time, even though the Malay slaves were a minority. The Bo-Kaap Museum traces the history of the neighbourhood and the arrival of the Muslim minority, many of whom were exiles from East Africa or South Asia. One of the oldest mosques in Cape Town is here, the Auwal Masjid, dating from 1804.

During your trip, you might hear the song of the muezzin from one of the dozen other mosques that are nearby. Under the terrible laws of apartheid, non-Muslims were forced to leave the neighbourhood.

Bo-Kaap Museum
71 Wale Street
8001 Cape Town

+27 (0)21 481 3938