THE FASCINATING HISTORY OF DE WATERKANT AREA IN CAPE TOWN
Completed in 2009, The Cape Quarter's modern buildings subtly combine with the facades of historical heritage buildings that made up the original 3 blocks.
It is one of the oldest parts of Cape Town, and one of the few to have retained much of its original character.
De Waterkant and the Malay Quarter nestle against the steep slopes of Signal Hill, close to the natural Table Bay harbour.
Steeped in history, the first houses were built here in 1790 but between 1795 and 1820 lower income families - including many artisans - began to make their homes here. It owes much of its character to the nature of its domestic architecture, mostly single storey houses with flat tin roofs painted in a variety of bright and charming pastel colours. A number of mosques with picturesque minarets are still in daily use.
The influx of Malays into the Malay Quarter began in the 1830s when slavery was abolished and those who had been forcibly brought to the Cape set up homes there.
By the middle of the 19th century it became known as the Slamse Beurt, or 'the Islamic Quarter' which helped the Cape Malay community retain its cultural identity as a group. Unfortunately the quality of living standards began to deteriorate after WWI, and in 1944 it was declared a slum. This prompted numerous prominent Cape Town citizens to form a group for the retention of the area, with the support of both the then Historical Monuments' Commission and the City Council.
Much of the suburb was purchased by the City Council, and as public opinion to save the area gained momentum, the Government set aside funds for the rehabilitation of this famous area.
Today it is a vibrant hub of Cape life where sophistication and chic collide with history and tradition. Its universal appeal makes it one of Cape Town's foremost attractions for both locals and international visitors.