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Cape Town Attractions and Things to See

Cape Town is the second most populated city in South Africa, and the biggest in land area, that includes the metro municipality, the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa, that houses the National Parliament and the majority of government offices. It is very well known for its excellent harbor, and the magnificent natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom that includes outstanding landmarks like Cape Point and Table Mountain. It is Africa's most popular tourist destination, sitting on the shore of the Table Bay, it was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for its ships that sailed to Eastern Africa, the Far East and India. It has grown into one of the most multicultural cities in the world, that reflects its new role as a main destination for expatriates and immigrants.

When humans occupied the area originally is not known, but the earliest remains that were found in the area were discovered at Peers Cave in Fish Hoek that date to between 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. It would be initially spoken of by the Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias in 1486, then Vasco da Gama would record sighting the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, and in the late 16th century, it would be visited by French, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish and English ships that stopped over on their journey to the Indies, trading tobacco, iron and copper with the Khoikhoi in exchange for fresh meat. In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck and other employees of the Dutch East Indian Company were dispatched to the cape to establish a way-station for ships that were travelling to the Dutch East Indies and the Fort de Goede Hoop that would eventually be replaced by the Castle of Good Hope; growing slowly during that time, since they couldn't find good workers, and would cause the authorities to import slaves from Madagascar and Indonesia, who would become the ancestors of the first Cape Coloured communities. In the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, the Netherlands was regularly being occupied by the French and Great Britain would try to take control of the Dutch colonies, capturing Cape Town in 1795, although it would be returned in 1803. In 1806, the Brits would again occupy the cape after the Battle of Bloubergstrand, and in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, the city would be permanently ceded to the British, and become the capital of the newly created Cape Colony that expanded their territories throughout the 19th century. When diamonds were discovered in 1867 in Griqualand West and then the Witwatersrand Gold Rush of 1886, there would be a flood of immigrants coming here.

Since it is located in the CI biodiversity hotspot, and the unique Cape Floristic region, the city has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any equivalent region in the world, with 19 different vegetation types that can't be found anywhere else in the world, along with hundreds of endemic species, and hundreds of others that are extremely restricted or threatened. One old saying has it that Table Mountain has more indigenous species on it than all of the entire British Isles, but sadly, the rapid population growth and urban sprawl would overtake much of the magnificent ecosystems with developments, and now the city has more than 300 threatened plant species and 13 of those are now extinct.

The city has many great attractions that include the natural amphitheater bordered by Table Bay. It has an excellent climate, natural settings and a good infrastructure, with numerous natural features that bring visitors here from around the globe, but the most famous and iconic is Table Mountain that belongs to Table Mountain National Park and offers excellent hiking and biking, as well as the Cableway. The beaches here are very popular with the locals, so naturally, tourists choose to visit these beautiful beaches as well. There are many cultural attractions like the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront that has great restaurants and cafes, Boulders Beach where the colony of African penguins live, and surfing has become quite popular. There hundreds of shops and the Two Oceans Aquarium, Robben Island, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.