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14 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Cape Town

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14 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Cape Town

Cool and quirky lesser-known truths about the Mother City

Think you’re clued up on all there is to know about the Mother City? Think again! There’s a whole heap of quirky little titbits of info about our pretty metropolis that you’re unlikely to be familiar with. So, in an effort to keep you on your toes, we’ve compiled an overview of 14 fun facts about Cape Town, at least some of which we’re sure you’ve never heard before.

14 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT CAPE TOWN

1. Cape Town is South Africa’s tobogganing hub
Fancy slipping and sliding downhill in a sled? The Mother City is the place to do it. Although over 300 tobogganing tracks exist worldwide, Cape Town is home to the only one in Africa, aptly titled Cool Runnings after the film about Jamaica’s first bobsled team. If you’re keen on visiting, you’ll find the track just 25km outside of the city centre on Carl Cronje Drive.

2. Two couples get hitched on Table Mountain every month
Our precious flat-topped mountain began forming around 280 million years ago, and today, it’s still evolving! The cableway, on the other hand, was erected in 1929 and was originally constructed from wood and steel (sounds pretty dangerous to us, but there have been no accidents on it as of yet). Another fun fact: it’s estimated that two couples get hitched on the mountain every month. Wowzers! And did we mention that the Table Mountain National Park, which spans an area of 22 000 hectares, boasts more plant species than the British Isles or New Zealand?

3. Cape Town was appointed the best place in the world to visit by the New York Times in 2014
The Mother City racked up some serious awards in 2014: our pretty city was named the best place in the world to visit by The New York Times, appointed World Design Capital 2014, featured second in Travel and Leisure’s list of top holiday destinations and deemed the second best African city to visit by TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travellers’ Choice awards. Similarly, did you know that in 2013 the UK publication The Guardian named the Sea Point swimming pool one of the top ten swimming pools in the world?

4. The Castle of Good Hope once had a sea view
Cape Town’s famous landmark the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest colonial building in South Africa, having been built between 1666 and 1679. The structure, which was once a fort, served as a welcoming port for sailors travelling around the Cape – an often arduous journey. Despite popular belief, it was not built by Jan van Riebeeck; although, a temporary clay and wooden fort was built during his time at the now Golden Acre shopping centre. Though the years have reshaped the Castle’s surrounding landscape, it is hard to imagine that at one time the star-shaped building had waves lapping at the entry point (the entrance was later moved for this very reason)! Today, the castle exists as a ceremonial base for Cape regiments of the South African Defence Force.

5. Lion’s Head wasn’t actually named for its felines  
Despite speculation, Lion’s Head does not take its name from being host to some big cats. The story goes that during the 17th century Dutch settlers named the peak Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head) and its adjacent summit Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s Tail aka Signal Hill as it’s known today). It was thought that the space between the two peaks is suggestive of a crouching lion.

6. The Mother City is host to the mother of all queer parties
Cape Town is home to the largest dress-to-theme costume party in South Africa, the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP), which also happens to be one of the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) annual events on the African continent.

7. Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language in the Western Cape 
Despite being one of the youngest languages in the world, Afrikaans is the most widely spoken tongue in the Western Cape, with isiXhosa and English racking up second and third places. Another fun fact about local demography? According the 2011 population census, the Western Cape populace has a (slightly) feminine edge – with 50.9% of us being women. Girl power!

8. The Cape Floral Kingdom claims nearly 7000 plants found nowhere else in the world
The Cape Floral Kingdom, which spans 90 000sq km, is the smallest and richest recognised floral area on the planet and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO’s committee. Of the 9600 species of plant life that are found in this kingdom, around 70% occur nowhere else in the world. These include the likes of the honey buchu, peninsula snapdragon and Good Hope satinflower.

9. The Cape Peninsula was originally known as the Cape of Storms
As a result of the terrible tempests that have been known to rock the Mother City’s coastline, the Cape Peninsula was originally nicknamed the ‘Cape of Storms’ by legendary explorer Bartholomew Dias. Later, it became known as the Cape of Good Hope because it offered colonial powers the promise of a sea route to the East.

10. Dr Christiaan Barnard’s groundbreaking surgery was bittersweet
While most are familiar with the fact that Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first-ever heart transplant in 1967 at Groote Schuur Hospital, not so many know that his patient passed away shortly after. Sadly, Mr Louis Washkansky, the man who received the revolutionary cardiac surgery, lived only 18 days post operation due to the onset of pneumonia. The original theatre where the awe-inspiring act took place is today a museum, aptly named Heart of Cape Town.

11. We’re all young here!
The 2011 national census reports that almost half (43.2%) of the Western Cape’s population is below the age of 25 – it seems the city is a fountain of youth! If you find the location of this age-defying waterspout, let us know!

12. Cape Town nearly followed in Australia’s footsteps
Adderley Street, the iconic Cape Town street that is today famous for its flower and fruit-and-veg sellers, took its name from Mr Charles B. Adderley, who passionately protested against a plan by the British government to turn Cape Town into a convict colony. History books have it that the road was originally made entirely from wooden blocks, but these were ultimately covered over with tar to make the road we know today. Remnants of these wooden tiles can still be found towards the upper end of the street today. So keep your eyes peeled next time you’re in search of a beautiful bouquet in the city centre!

13. Cape Town has the country’s highest number of homes valued at more than R20 million
Business Day recently reported that while Jozi’s home to most of South Africa’s wealthiest (48% live in the City of Gold), the Mother City has more “trophy homes” - houses valued at over R20 million.  Furthermore, it seems that the most sought-after spot of turf for those living it lush is Camps Bay, where there are 155 properties valued at more than R20 million.

14. Cape Town is the most equal city in South Africa
Though the ANC and DA might never come to consensus over who will most effectively run the Western Cape, both the UN-Habitat’s (the United Nations agency for human settlement) 2010/11 and 2012/2013 State of the World’s Cities reports concluded that Cape Town is the most equal of all South African cities. According to the account, which looks at income inequality, the three cities topping the inequality list are Buffalo City (East London), Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni (East Rand).

By Georgina Selander 

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While we’re on the topic of interesting titbits about the Mother City, why not really get to know this beautiful metropolis by getting out from behind the computer screen and venturing outdoors? Check out our Must Do’s or our Cape Town Bucket List overviews for some inspiration.
 
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Cape Town Events Calendar
December 2016
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Au RevoirAu Revoir at Kalk Bay Theatre

Get ready to experience a cirque-comedy dance extravaganza!

Proe Paarl Wine FestivalProe Paarl Wine Festival

Come get a taste of the Cape Winelands at this annual wine tasting extravaganza!

I Love Big Bay Spring MarketI Love Big Bay Market

Put a spring in your step at this fabulous evening market

Twilight Fun RunTwilight Team Run in Cape Town

Strut your stuff through the streets of the Mother City in support of the ...

Canal Walk Ice AdventureCanal Walk Ice Adventure

Cool off this summer as Canal Walk transforms into an icy wonderland

Find your spot#FindYourSpot with Place in the Sun ...

Col'Cacchio invites you all to come and try their custom designed pizza's and ...

Hell for Croissants - 3We Didn’t Come to Hell for the ...

The eagerly anticipated sequel to The Epicene Butcher is finally here!

Little Maestros 1Little Maestros Concert

Help your kids become smarter by attending this series of classical music ...

Alan Committie Laughing Matters 6 DecAlan Committie in Laughing Matters

End the year off with the One Man Committee of Comedy’s hysterical new show

Hermanus Vac PartyHermanus Vac Party

Celebrate the end of school and start the new chapter of your life with a bang

table tennis tournament 20162016 World Junior Table Tennis ...

Witness the table version of Wimbledon at GrandWest!

Alistair Izobel Kaapse Jol 3Alistair Izobell’s Kaapse Jol

Sing and dance your way into the new year at this lively performance

 PechaKucha at Assembly |  PechaKucha  cape townPechaKucha Cape Town

Get inspired at this creative bimonthly talk happening in the heart of the ...

Watermelon Gang - 1Anton Crone Exhibition in Woodstock

Challenge your misconceptions and explore one of Cape Town’s most culturally ...

DinosAlive at CapeGate Shopping CentreDinosAlive Dinosaur Exhibition and Play ...

Grab the kids and jump back to the Jurassic period at this awesome interactive ...

District Six Kanala Musical in Cape Town District Six - Kanala Musical

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Galileo Open Air Cinema Cape TownThe Galileo Open Air Cinema in the Cape ...

Grab some snacks and get ready to watch your favourite films beneath the stars ...

The Galileo Open Air Theatre Hillcrest QuarryThe Galileo Open Air Cinema at ...

Grab your popcorn and settle down at this unique Durbanville location for the ...

Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands Live Music 2Happy Hour Special at the Live-Inn Room

Pop in to Park Inn Newslands Hotel for buy-one-get-one-free drinks any day of ...

WSDC Shark 5White Shark Diving Company’s Killer ...

Come face-to-face with the ocean’s most fearsome fish for a truly ...

Haute Cabriere TerraceTrue Marriage of Food and Wine at Haute ...

Enjoy a specially curated Pinot Noir-inspired pairing of exquisite vino and ...

Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2015 4Ram Slam T20 Challenge Cricket Fixtures ...

The nation-wide T20 tournament pits the best teams against each other

HintHunt Escape Game LogoCape Town’s Most Mysterious Tourist ...

Be sure to add this exhilarating live group escape game challenge to your ...

Clybourne Park at The Fugard TheatreUpcoming Plays that You Don’t Want to ...

Cape Town has a sensational theatre culture and we invite you to sample the ...

Rick's Cafe Table PeopleRick’s Café Americain’s Weekly ...

Pop over to the charming Casablanca-themed restaurant for a hearty meal that ...

Horseback safari at AquilaHorseback Safari at Aquila Game Reserve

Ditch the regular, old game drive and saddle up for an up-close experience with ...

Table Mountain sunsetTable Mountain Sunset Special

Get up close and personal with Table Mountain this summer…

Decor at Cafe Mojito city centreLive Music Tuesday at Cafe Mojito

Kick off your week with a night of local jamming at Long Street’s beloved ...

Tidy and Co 15 Christmas Present Ideas15 Christmas Present Ideas for 15 ...

A pick of 15 fabulous gifts for everyone from outdoor enthusiasts and girly ...

Boy Girl Hair Salon at Peter the HaircutterHaircut Special at Boy Girl Hair Salon ...

Marry a tip-top cut with any of this edgy salon’s other services and save

juli jana art 3Stratagems Exhibition by juli Jana

Take part in a visual experience at this vibrant display of abstract art

Manga Sushi 22-for-1 Sushi Special at Manga ...

Save on sashimi, salmon roses and more every Tuesday at this contemporary Asian ...

Tiere KersmarkTiere Christmas Market

Find all your Christmas goodies at this lovely high school fundraiser

Summertide Art Exhibition 2016Summertide Art Exhibition

Add a pop of culture into your summer with this exquisite exhibition

Cherry Picking at KlondykeCherry Picking Season in Ceres

Skip through the orchards with your loved ones and fill your baskets with ...

table mountain chocolate 3Table Mountain Chocolate Bar Special

Buy five of the flat-topped bars and pay for four when you mention CapeTownMag

ocean star 6Ocean Star Sailing Academy's Fishing ...

Every Tuesday, CapeTownMagazine.com readers can enjoy a four-hour fishing ...

Bowhaus WashHausBowhaus Bath Brush and Doggy Daycare ...

This Mother City pet-sitting paradise brings you the alternative to leaving ...

Cape Quarter ExteriorFREE Weekly Yoga Class at Cape Quarter

Enrich your physical, mental and spiritual state every Tuesday evening at this ...

Annie Musical at the ArtscapeAnnie at The Artscape

Leapin’ lizards! Annie’s on her way to brighten up your day

Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge InteriorTapas and Wine Special at Signal Hill ...

Wine, dine and relax every Tuesday at this stylish CBD haunt

Beerhouse Restaurant and Bar in Cape TownPub Quiz Night at Beerhouse on Long ...

Test your general knowledge at this Long Street-based haunt’s Tuesday pub quiz

Excentric InteriorTransformation Tuesday at Excentric ...

First-time clients will receive a complimentary Olaplex in-salon treatment when ...

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

Use this handy cycling overview to diarise your favourite events for the ...

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Simply mention CapeTownMagazine.com while placing an order of coffee beans or ...

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