Why Colosseum Luxury Hotel is the obvious choice for a cultural holiday
9 min read
Cape Town is a city with an incredibly rich and diverse history. The city endeavours to provide visitors with the heritages of all people that live here – the tribes that have lived in southern Africa for millennia, the original European settlers and colonisers, the people who suffered under slavery and colonialism, the Jewish communities, the Muslim communities, the Coloured, Black, and other people who suffered under Apartheid, and the contemporary society with people from diverse backgrounds, religions, genders, classes, and races. We’re here to tell you exactly why we’re the perfect location if you are looking for a cultural holiday.
Museums and Galleries
Cape Town has many amazing museums and galleries that are worth the visit. Here is our top 5 recommendations:
1. District Six Museum
The District Six Museum is a must-stop for anyone on a cultural holiday. Here you’ll learn about the history of Cape Town’s sixth municipal district, also known as District Six. Before Apartheid, this was a lively and diverse community filled with a rich history. It represented everything the Apartheid government tried to eradicate, and consequently became one of the main targets of this regime. The museum tells the events from beginning up until present day and highlights the joy this community had and the resilience they have to this day.
2. Iziko Museum Complex and Slave Lodge
The Iziko Museum Complex is home to the South African Museum, the South African National Gallery, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, and the Company Gardens. This is well worth a day trip as there is lots to explore and learn. The first of these explore South Africa’s natural history, as well the original tribes that have been living in South Africa for thousands of years. Another important museum to visit is the Iziko Slave Lodge, which discusses South Africa’s complicity in slavery. The exhibitions focus on human rights issues, both throughout history and today.
3. South African Jewish Museum and Cape Town Holocaust Centre
The South African Jewish Museum gives a detailed account of the lives and history of the South African Jewish community. It focuses on the past and South African Judaism’s roots, as well as the present and how the Jewish community is active in all aspects of building and shaping South Africa. The Cape Town Holocaust Centre is in the same complex as the Jewish Museum and recounts the events of the Holocaust through multimedia displays. The centre honours the lives of those survivors who made Cape Town their home.
4. Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa
The Zeitz MOCAA focuses on contemporary African art with a permanent collection and rotating temporary displays. The exhibiting artists are from across Africa, like Zimbabwe, Mali, and Ghana, while others are from further afield. This museum is worth putting a day aside for, so you can take your time and enjoy the gorgeous creations our African artists produce.
5. Independent galleries
Cape Town is home to many creatives and artists. Be sure to walk along Long Street, Loop Street, and Bree Street to view some local art and support independent businesses. The V&A Waterfront is home to many artists as well, both in formal and informal settings.
A historical attraction is never far away when visiting Cape Town:
The Bo-Kaap is a residential area in Cape Town known for its brightly coloured houses and cobbled streets. It is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture and has a long history of Muslim heritage. The Bo-Kaap Museum is the oldest house in this area that has maintained its original form, having been built in the 1760s. It tells the story of the Bo-Kaap, highlighting the lives and contributions of early Muslim settlers and slaves. Be sure to look out for the benches or seats on the stoeps (verandas) which is meant as an easy gathering place for family and friends. By the 1800s much of the community’s social life was organised by the religious aspects of daily lives and the area was home to two mosques, five prayer rooms, and four madressas (Muslim schools). This focus on religion is still enacted today through the local mosques.
2. Castle of Good Hope
The Castle of Good Hope, or Kasteel De Goede Hoop, was built between 1666 and 1679 century by the Dutch East India Company and Dutch colonisers. This castle replaced the Fort De Goede Hoop which Jan van Riebeeck had built and is South Africa’s oldest existing building. The castle is known for its iconic pentagonal shape, with the five bastions named after William III of Orange-Nassau: Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, Oranje, and Leerdam. For two centuries it served as the seat of government and military operations and today it is presented as closely as historical sources allow.
3. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch is a world-acclaimed botanical garden and offers an opportunity to explore the history of Cape Town’s natural environments. Evidence exists that people from as far back as the Stone Age were active in what is known today as Kirstenbosch. The gardens stretch for a while and have many great things to find – there is often art in the gardens, the natural vegetation has plaques that tell you more about the specific plants, there is the Boomslang walkway that offers great views of the gardens and Table Mountain, and in the summer, there are concerts on Sundays. A picnic basket and blanket are a must for every visit!
4. Robben Island
Robben Island’s most notorious prisoner is Nelson Mandela, who was held captive here for 18 years due to his anti-Apartheid activism, but the island had many uses before serving as a prison. The Portuguese had used the island as a refuelling station since 1488 and the Dutch used it as a more sheltered and protected housing for their ewes and rams. Since the end of the 17th century, the island was used to hold political prisoners, and in 1806 a Scottish whaler founded a whaling station on the island. The island functioned as a leper colony in the latter half of the 19th century and was used to isolate animals when necessary. It was fortified during the Second World War. Today, you can take a ferry from the V&A Waterfront and visit the island, the prison and the museum.
Often paying respect to the multiple cultures present in South Africa, our cuisine is some of the best and most varied food you can find.
1. Bo-Kaap Kombuis
Bo-Kaap Kombuis is a restaurant that serves traditional Cape Malay food. The owners were born and grew up in the Bo-Kaap and created this restaurant to celebrate their history. They say that they “want [their] food to be tasted by people of all walks of life” and thus endeavour to keep the menu and pricing accessible and affordable. The menu highlights are traditional curries, Boboti, and Bredie. They serve koeksisters, deliciously soft deep-fried dough balls, spiced with cinnamon and traditional spices and coated with desiccated coconut.
2. GOLD Restaurant
GOLD Restaurant offers “An Immersive African Experience”. Food is meant to be shared the traditional way – with friends and family – and throughout the meal you will learn about each course’s country of origin, cooking techniques, and spicing. The menu offers cuisine from across Africa, with Halal, vegan, and vegetarian options available. The restaurant also offers African entertainment in the form of singing, dancing, drumming, and Mali puppetry.
3. Mzansi Restaurant
Mzansi is located within Langa, a township 15 kilometres outside of Cape Town. The restaurant is run by a local South African couple, Nomonde and Vukile Siyaka, and offers traditional African meals, alongside entertainment like an African Marimba band that plays indigenous, pop, and jazz music, local dances, face painting, and other activities that can be secured upon request. The host and owner, Nomonde, shares the powerful story of the restaurant and her family with guests. What makes this restaurant so special is that, by visiting and eating here, you are directly helping the local community, as the restaurant is committed to uplifting the people of Langa and their living standard.
Cultural events are abounding in Cape Town. Here are a few worth visiting:
1. Kaapse Klopse
The Kaapse Klopse, officially known as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, takes place every year between 31 December and 2 January and is a Cape Coloured festival. Organised into different “klopse” or troupes, people take to the streets in brightly coloured clothing and umbrellas and play different instruments and songs. The festival stems back to slave traditions, as slaves were relieved of their duties and free to celebrate the holidays in their own manner on the second of January. The “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” became a celebration of the “creole” culture present in Cape Town, with the first to be estimated to have taken place in 1887. The event was heavily influenced by the racist American minstrel shows and was banned, unsuccessfully to some degree, during the Apartheid years. It returned to its original route in 1989 and celebrates the community’s survival and continuity.
2. Jive Cape Town Funny Festival
The Funny Festival happens yearly during the months of June and July. It brings together some of the best comedians, both locally and internationally, and promises itself as an “antidote to the winter cold”. The first festival took place in 1997 and has been keeping people laughing since. If you’re in town, this is definitely worth the visit!
3. Cape Town Pride Festival
Cape Town Pride Festival celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community every February and March and promises to make the Mother City live up to South Africa’s Rainbow Nation status. The festival has many great events culminating in the Pride March and Pride Festival Mardi Gras. This is a great opportunity for queer people and allies to celebrate the queer community, as well as fight for further equal rights and tolerance, both in South Africa and internationally.
4. Wildflower Shows
The West Coast is known for its gorgeous wildflower fields during the Spring months. This might not be a cultural event, but it celebrates South Africa’s beautiful biodiversity and natural surrounds. If you are looking for a colourful day out, we recommend Kirstenbosch and Table Mountain National Park, West Coast National Park, and Darling.
5. Adderley Street Festival of Lights
Cape Town is decked out every December in the best festive lights. The tradition started in 1969. The turning on of the lights is a big event every year with stalls, festive live music, and delicious food. If you miss this event, why not take a drive down Adderley Street at night and marvel at Cape Town’s festive display.
6. First Thursdays
The ultimate monthly cultural event, First Thursdays sees the doors of numerous art galleries and cultural centres kept open until late the first Thursday of every month. The events are usually free and there is no set route, so you are free to wander around as you wish. The bars and restaurants join in as well, so depending on your Friday morning plans, why not head out for dinner or a dance at one of Cape Town’s many clubs!
We hope you’re excited for your next cultural holiday in Cape Town. Feel free to ask our friendly staff for any further recommendations and don’t forget to tag us and share your favourite moments!