Cape Town's historical heart & soul: Greenmarket Square

The historical Greenmarket Square is the place to be for African art music paintings, masks, clothing, statues, jewelry and more.


Greenmarket Square lies between Long Street and St Georges Mall, on the level of Short Market Street and/or Long Market Street. Here one can buy everything from African curio, souvenirs and leatherwork to foods and African music. Apart from a vibrant atmosphere, the square has a rich history.

The square dates back to 1696, the year when the first Burgher Watch House (Now the Old Town House) was built. Therefore the square was known as the Burgher Watch Square. From here, guards patrolled the streets of Cape Town to maintain law and order.

The Old Town House, the most prominent building on the Square, was built in 1755 as Cape Town's first public building. Apart from accommodating the guards, it served as the Burgher Senate and from 1840 till 1905, the Old Town House served as Cape Town's City Hall.

It was only in the nineteenth century the square's name was changed in Greenmarket Square. Here the fresh fruit and vegetables were sold by slaves, on order of the VOC. The slaves used a tavern next to the Old Town House for drinking and gambling.

While slaves were at work, important proclamations were read from the balcony of the Town House, including the slave code. These were some of the rules slaves had to follow:

    They had to go bare feet and wear passes     Talking to another slave was answered with corporal punishmen     Slaves had to be indoors by 10pm     Slaves who raised their hands against a slave-owner were put to death.

In 1914 the Old Town House became the city's first art museum. Currently it is the proud owner of the world-renowned Michaelis Collection, consisting of early and priceless Dutch and Flemish paintings from for instance Johan Vermeer and Frans Hals.

Want to stay overnight close to Cape Town's Histroical heart? Than spend the night at Park Inn Green Market Square!


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