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Bo-Kaap is a lively suburb in Cape Town, packed with colored houses which are national monuments and date back to the 1750s.

David Goran

The Bo-Kaap in formerly known as the Malay Quarter, a lively suburb full of brightly coloured houses and cobble stoned streets.

Many of which are national monuments and date back to the 1750s.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Source

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Source

 

The Bo Kaap or Cape Malay Quarter belongs to the culturally and historically most interesting parts of Cape Town. Source

The Bo-Kaap or Cape Malay Quarter belongs to the culturally and historically most interesting parts of Cape Town. Source

 

The view of Signal Hill from Bo-Kaap. Source

The view of Signal Hill from Bo-Kaap. Source

 

Bo-Kaap primary colours. Source

Bo-Kaap primary colours. Source

Many of the inhabitants are a blend of cultures that descend from slaves brought to South Africa from India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia by the Dutch in the 1700s.

Many were Muslims and others were converted to Islam by the Cape Muslim community.

These former slaves became known as the Cape Malay, and it’s believed that they were instrumental in the formation of the Afrikaans language, a version of Dutch simplified for easier communication between the Dutch settlers and workers.

Educated Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.

Bo-Kaap is traditionally a multicultural area. Source

Bo-Kaap is traditionally a multicultural area. Source

 

More than 90% of the people who live here are Muslim. Source

More than 90% of the people who live here are Muslim. Source

 

Rose Street. Source

Rose Street. Source

One of the oldest buildings in Wale Street 71, which dates back to the 1760s, houses the “Bo-Kaap Museum” which became home to many Muslims and freed slaves after the abolition of slavery.

It highlights the cultural contribution made by early Muslim settlers, many of whom were skilled tailors, carpenters, shoe makers and builders.

It contains 19th-century furnishings which include a fine Cape drop-leaf dining table, Cape Regency-style chairs and a bridal chamber decorated to match the bride’s dress.

Chiappini street houses. Source

Chiappini street houses. Source1 Source2

 

Bo-Kaap British Style houses. Source

Bo-Kaap British Style houses. Source

 

The architectural style is a synthesis of Cape Dutch and Edwardian. Source

The architectural style is a synthesis of Cape Dutch and Edwardian. Source

 

The older period homes, most of which are semi-detached, lie along lower Bo-Kaap, Dorp Street. Source

The older period homes, most of which are semi-detached, lie along lower Bo-Kaap, Dorp Street. Source

The museum is distinguishable by its voorstoep—a type of front terrace with a bench at each end emphasizing the polarizing aspect of Cape Muslim culture.

The most interesting exhibit in the museum is the selection of black-and-white photos of local life displayed in the upstairs room, across the courtyard.

Not far from the museum is the oldest mosque in South Africa, the Auwal Mosque built at the turn of the 18th century.

Left - Bo-Kaap Museum. Still in its original form. Right - Oldest Mosque in Cape Town - Auwal Mosque in the Bo-Kaap. Source1 Source2

Left – Bo-Kaap Museum. Still in its original form. Right – Oldest Mosque in Cape Town – Auwal Mosque in the Bo-Kaap. Source1 Source2

 

Behind the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum. Source

Behind the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum. Source

Colourful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer, and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa, add to this unique Cape experience.