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Greenmarket Square: the heart of Cape Town

Where locals have gathered for over 300 years

Some may think of Greenmarket Square as a bustling market place, hosting ships trading their goods, to the upper echelons of society, to the eclectic mix of locals and visitors of today. Some may think of the iconic, historic buildings such as, the gothic-revivalist, Methodist church. Some may think of the square as an open air gathering place, where restaurants and cafes spill onto the cobbled streets and free concerts bring community together. Or, some may think of the Town House; national monument and home of the priceless, Michealis Art Collection.

Greenmarket Square is where Cape Town caught a glimpse of its first electrical light and it is the central point from which the landscape of Cape Town was mapped out. Some may think of it as the very nucleus of our vibrant, Mother City.

Greenmarket Square dates back to 1696, when it was originally known as Burger Watch Square – the centre for Cape Town's law enforcement. Since, the square has seen an Old Town House, a civic centre and council house and even Cape Town City Hall. In 1967, cobbled stones were laid on the square; each made from granite and dressed by hand.

Always used as a market place...

Ships first used Greenmarket Square to trade their goods, or to stock up on new produce before they continued on their journey. It was originally meant for the wealthy and elite, but today, you'll see people from all walks of life shopping at the flea market for souvenirs, which is a tribute to Cape Town's newfound vibrancy and spirit of togetherness. The daily market entices locals and visitors alike with; clothing, jewellery, sandals, crafts, candles and curios. There is always an exciting buzz and you'll certainly meet colourful and eccentric characters in the market sellers.

The Michaelis Collection at the Old Townhouse...

Built in 1755, this early, Cape Dutch Building is one of the first double-storey buildings, but it is also   internationally renowned for housing artwork by Flemish and Dutch masters of art, from 16th-18th century, as donated by Sir Max Michaels. The Old Townhouse will exhibit landscape art exhibition, 'The Lie of the Land', until the end of September 2010.

The Old Townhouse | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

Wine, chocolate and traditional South African food...

Today, restaurants and cafe's spill out onto the cobbled streets of the square, making them ideal spots to people-watch, enjoy local fare, the sound of Marimba bands in the square, or relax after a hard days shopping.

Dish Cape Town:
Dish is light and breezy restaurant serving up delicious South African fare including; Karoo lamb or Springbok sirloin in red wine jus, as well as salads. The Dish motto is that anything goes and diners range from casual, to dressed to impress. Relax after dinner at Dish Cigar Lounge, which offers wine, Vongeusau chocolate and food pairings, in a stylish, lounge setting.

Inn on the Square | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

Posticino Express
Think retro-casual lounge and Italian pizzas, Panini's, and September pasta specials (Two dishes for R80).  Not only does Posticino Express, a sister of renowned Sea Point Restaurant, Postincino, have its Italian fingers firmly in Greenmarket's 'cafe culture' pie, but this popular lunch spot also serves summer time diners with Friday Jazz nights, from November to April.

Corner of Burg and Shortmarket Street | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

Mumbo Jumbo
Relax on the front facing couch at playful kitsch cafe, Mumbo Jumbo, whilst observing the characterful square and listening to an eclectic mix of musical styles. It's worth staying for a home cooked lunch and sundowners.Read more about Eating Absolute Mumbo Jumbo

The Cape Suites | 38 Shortmarket Street | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

Scotch Coffee House
Set in a stunning Ivy courtyard, which has played host to a wedding shoot or two, this coffee house is a peaceful retreat, tucked away behind market square. Rising at 7, the cafe prepares hearty breakfasts, light lunches, traditional African dinners and a mean slice of Cape Brandy Tart. You'll find yourself chatting with the owner, who has many an interesting story to impart.

The Ivy Courtyard | The Townhouse | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

An open air gathering place...

Greenmarket Square has played host to many a free concert over recent years including; Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Cape Town Carnival. Such concerts have hosted the cream of South African musical talent including; Locnville, Emo Adams and Loyiso. They are a testament to South Africa's vibrancy and spirit of togetherness - people from all walks of life come together in the same arena, to enjoy music.

A place to rest your head...

Inn at the Square
Housed in one of Cape Town's oldest buildings, this hotel looks directly down upon Greenmarket Square. Each of one of 165 en suite rooms offer climate control and satellite TV, as well as full use of onsite facilities including; a sauna, a fitness centre and a swimming pool with a sundeck.

Inn at the Square | Greenmarket Square | Cape Town

By Lisa Nevitt

Thinking about getting a little retail action at the Waterfront or the Cape Quarter? Be sure to check out our Shopping Section

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