A photographic walk around Gardens, a Cape Town suburb
Gardens - an old Cape Town suburb
When the first white settlers arrived in what is now Cape Town in 1652 a garden was started to grow fresh produce for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. This garden, still known as "The Company's Gardens", is now a botanical garden. The suburb of Cape Town to the south of it takes its name from it, Gardens.
This suburb lies on the northern slopes of Table Mountain and Lion's Head, to the west.
It is an up-market suburb mostly populated by young professionals. Many of the houses in the suburb are relatively old. While on a brief holiday in Cape Town just before Christmas 2010 I stayed with my family in a holiday apartment there and one morning took a stroll up the lower slopes of the mountain. The accompanying photos are the result of this stroll.
The MountainsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Table Mountain is part of the range of mountains that form the Cape Peninsular.
The first European to climb it was Portuguese explorer António de Saldanha, who also named it, in 1503.
The cableway was first opened in 1929 and was upgraded in 1997. The new cable cars rotate on the journey up and down, giving the maximum 65 passengers panoramic views over the city and Table Bay.
A walk in the Garden!
Gardens is full of mostly Victorian houses with often quaint looking facades.
I noticed one in particular from the window of our appartment and decided to go and look for it. This took me on a very pleasant early morning stroll through the lovely streets of Gardens.
I did not have time to do any research about any of the buildings excpet the one I could not get close to, Leeuwenhof.
What came to me as I looked at these houses was that the architects produced buildings, domestic architecture, that had a sense of style and purpose with human dimensions.
The houses have a certain unselfconscious charm and settledness which was somewhat offset for me by the awareness that the wealth that enabled their building was created from a degree of exploitation that today would not be acceptable, and was no doubt not acceptable to those who suffered from it at the time.
The conundrum of beauty produced through injustice haunts me - a question for which as yet I have no answer, but which unsettles me. Is there, in fact, an answer?
In the light of the loveliness of the day and the beauty of the buildings I decided to just enjoy the experience and let the question lie quietly in the back of my mind. But I knew it would come back!
Leeuwehof was a farm on the northern slopes of Table Mountain originating from the late 17th Century. It was a farm (or "tuin" in the contemporary usage of the word) from which the citizens of Cape Town were able to obtain fruit and vegetables, and other foodstuffs.
A number of such small farms were clustered around the streams which flowed down the mountain, fed by the frequent cloud cover and resultant rain.
The farm had slave quarters which have recently been renovated and restored. The number of slaves brought to the Cape over a period of about 180 years has been estimated at 63000.
At the time of the opening of the refurbished slave quarters then Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Scahlkwyk (now Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) said: "There is no true history of slave masters without the history of the slaves. It is vital for us to embrace every strand of our history, and to explore the legacies of all communities if we are to draw from them and to learn from our past."
I was unable to get close to the great house as one needs special permission to go into the grounds, so I had to be content with the accompanying photo shot through the security fence.
Where I walked
From our apartment in Camp Street I walked up Welgemeend Street past some lovely early 20th Century bungalows, then turned into Hofmeyr Street where the beautiful Victorian double stories were.
Hofmeyr is a lovely, leafy street, very quiet the morning I walked it. The houses were beautiful, though not easy to photograph.
The sky was an incredibly deep blue, brilliantly off-setting the colours of the housees.
From Hofmeyr I turned left into Kloof Street and saw the quaint house which is now the Kloof Street Library, and above it some old shops.
From Kloof Street I turned left into Kotze and from Kotze into Hof Street, the street in which Leewenhof is situated. In Hof Street is also the beautiful, somewhat austere Georgian building which I think might be Waterhof, though I could find not signs to indicate the name of the building.
I walked all the way down Hof Street until I came to the old reservoir which I walked around and took the photo of the pine trees.
Then back to our apartment and breakfast!
All the photos I took are available here.
The route of my stroll
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2011