City Hall, Cape Town

City Hall. Source: Cape Town in the twentieth century, South Africa, David Philip Publishers

This is a large Edwardian building in the centre of Cape Town city. It was built in 1905, on the Grand parade, west of the Castle of Good Hope. Messrs Henry Austin Reid and Frederick George designed this building and is home to the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs concerts there regularly. It is located on the Grand Parade to the west of the Castle and is built from honey-coloured oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England.

 
Inside, it’s a symphony of mosaic floors, old stained glass, a classic pipe organ and marble staircase. That bell tower at the Cape Town City Hall has an astounding 39 bells and reminds many visitors of London’s Big Ben.
 
The auditorium has seen royalty and ‘regular folks’ alike since the opening of the City Hall in 1905. In 1947, as part of the British Royal tour of South Africa, the lovely young Princess Elizabeth was the belle of a grand ball staged here.
 
But every high-born personal appearance ever made at the Cape Town City Hall was totally eclipsed on 11 February 1990, when a newly-released Nelson Mandela stood on the balcony and addressed the jubilant people gathered below on the Grand Parade square.
 
‘Today the majority of South Africa, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future,’ Mandela said. ‘Our march to freedom is irreversible.’
 
An estimated 250 000 people cheered from the square below. And millions around the world joined them in celebration...
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Last updated : 24-Mar-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 14-Jul-2011