To many, Cape Town is the embodiment of the new Africa – a culturally rich city blessed with a breathtaking setting between the ocean and the mountains.
The “Mother City” was voted “Africa’s Leading Destination” at the 2009 World Travel Awards. This summer it will play host to a number of group games and one semi-final of the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
The iconic Table Mountain rises 1,086 above the city, and on a clear day, the flat-topped mountain is visible 200km out to sea.
Cape Town has an abundance of contrasting activities from lounging on the Atlantic seaboard’s popular beaches to exploring the vividly painted area of the Bo-Kaap.
The Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront is a great location for shopping, and is also host to the Two Oceans Aquarium, depicting sea life from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Long Street has long been a place of bustling nightlife and there is a wealth of museums in the city to discover. The Western Cape area is renowned as a wine-producing area, and there are tours available along the ‘wine route’.
The first inhabitants are thought to have come here as early as 100,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers roamed the Cape Peninsula. After the arrival of European sailors in 1652, it became a haven for sailors who travelled along the African coast on the spice route to India.
Cape Town - voted “Africa’s Leading Destination” by the World Travel Awards
The city has also played an important role in contemporary South African history. One of the most iconic sites in Cape Town is Robben Island, a place that was used as a prison for political prisoners as early as 1898. Robben Island became famous as the place of incarceration for the Rivonia Trial accused, which included Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others.
Cape Town has been the legislative capital of South Africa since 1910. The Houses of Parliament, still in use today, were built in 1885.
Cape Town has produced many of South Africa’s top recent internationals such as Shaun Bartlett, Benni McCarthy and Andre Arendse.
The City has also produced many other top footballers that went on to play for some of the top clubs in Europe, including former Manchester United player, Quinton Fortune.
South Africa’s all-time top goalscorer, Benni McCarthy has enjoyed international success, winning the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. He also won a Portuguese top flight Golden Boot.
The now defunct Hellenic FC was the first Cape Town side to win a championship in 1971, soon followed by Cape Town City. In 1995, Cape Town Spurs swept the board and did the double, claiming the league and knockout cup crowns. All three clubs have since folded.
Ajax Cape Town and Santos, champions in 2002, continue to keep professional football alive in the city. Ajax Cape Town is a satellite club of Dutch giants, Ajax Amsterdam and the partnership between the two clubs has seen many players launching their careers in Europe. Those include current Everton star, Steven Pienaar, Bafana Bafana captain, Aaron Mokoena, McCarthy and many others.
Cape Town has a number of clubs that compete in the country’s First Division League. They are Ikapa Sporting, FC Cape Town, Hanover Park and Vasco da Gama.
One of the most artistic football venues not just in South Africa but the world, the newly-built Green Point Stadium enjoys a spectacular setting, stone’s throw from the ocean and with a mountain backdrop.
It will play host to one of the two semi-final venues for the FIFA World Cup. This multi-purpose venue is also going to be used to stage major events and concerts. The location is ideal as it is a short walk from the transportation hub of the city. The new stadium has been partly built on land that was previously used as a golf course.
The stadium, which has an exterior that is covered with noise-reducing cladding has a capacity of 70,000. The Green Point Common, on which the new 2010 stadium is being built, was originally much larger than what now remains, and included most of the land between the sea and Signal Hill, stretching from the city centre towards Sea Point.
Cape Town has another world-standard stadium, Newlands, but this is primarily used as a rugby union venue. Post FIFA World Cup, the Green Point Stadium is likely to be used by some of the Cape Town-based professional football outfits that include Ajax Cape Town and Santos.
Cape Town offers a wealth of quality hotels to meet all budgets.
The Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town
The most iconic luxury hotel in the city is the Mount Nelson Hotel (http://www.mountnelson.co.za) by Orient-Express, which was voted “Africa’s Leading Hotel” and “South Africa’s Leading Hotel” at the 2009 World Travel Awards.
This urban sanctuary is situated within a sprawling lush garden estate in the heart of the city’s vibrant cultural centre and close to the bustling V&A Waterfront and some of Cape Town’s best beaches.
The Last Word Long Beach (http://www.thelongbeach.com) is a truly special place to stay in Cape Town, offering a rare and rewarding alternative to your conventional holiday experience.
The boutique hotel is situated in the picturesque lobster-fishing village of Kommetjie on the pristine Long beach itself.