Walking Tour: Foreshore Public Art Walk

  • Start Corner St George’s Mall & Strand St, Foreshore
  • End Cape Town Station
  • Length 1km; one hour

The Foreshore isn’t big on sightseeing, but on this walk you can explore around the concrete towers and plazas and take in sculptures both old and new.

On pedestrianised St George’s Mall, opposite Waterkant St, is Brett Murray’s quirky statue Africa. This African-curio bronze statue, sprouting bright-yellow Bart Simpson heads, is typical of Murray’s satirical style and caused much public debate on its unveiling in 2000.

At the end of St George’s Mall turn left into Thibault Sq, surrounded by some the Foreshore’s oldest skyscrapers, including the ABSA Centre. In the square you can view Mythological Landscape, a steel and bronze piece by John Skotnes that celebrates diversity.

Cross Mechau St and continue towards Jetty Square where a school of steel sharks by Ralph Borland responds to passersby by swivelling on their poles. Around the corner Pier Place is a pedestrianised square scattered with Egon Tania's lifelike statues of people going about their daily lives (chatting on a cell phone; reading the newspaper; a child playing in the sand).

In the middle of the roundabout at the Foreshore end of Heerengracht is a small statue of the Portuguese sailor Bartholomeu Dias, the first recorded European to have rounded the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488. Across the road is the Cape Town International Convention Centre; in the main entrance hall, Baobabs, Stormclouds, Animals and People is a giant relief sculpture, a collaboration between Brett Murray and the late San artist Tuoi Steffaans Samcuia of the !Xun and Khwe San Art and Cultural Project.

Return towards the city down Heerengracht, detouring left on Hertzog Blvd. Near the Civic Centre is Edoardo Villa’s Knot, which looks like a giant red paper clip bent out of shape. Back on Heerengracht, opposite Cape Town Train Station, are the twin statues of Jan van Riebeeck and Maria de la Queillerie, the first Dutch boss of Cape Town and his wife. This is apparently the spot where they stepped ashore in 1652.

Walking Tour: Art & Architecture Walk

  • Start Cape Town Tourism, corner Castle & Burg Sts, City Bowl
  • End Church Sq
  • Length 1.5km; one hour

A building boom in Cape Town during the 1930s resulted in the city centre having a remarkable number of grand art deco buildings. This walk takes you past some of the key buildings.

At 24 Burg St is New Zealand House, designed by WH Grant in a style known as Cape Mediterranean. Ahead is Greenmarket Square, which hosts a daily crafts and souvenir market. Three quarters of the buildings surrounding the square hail from the 1930s, the main exception being the Old Town House, completed in 1761.

At the junction of Burg and Wale Sts, the Waalburg Building has a facade decorated with bronze and Table Mountain–stone panels depicting scenes of South African life. Opposite is the Western Cape Legislature, its grey bulk enlivened by stone-carved animal heads.

Turn into St George’s Mall and continue to Shortmarket St, where a right turn will bring you to the junction with Adderley St. Here is the First National Bank, completed in 1913, and one of the final projects of Sir Herbert Baker: pop inside to see some of the bank’s original fittings. Head up Adderley St, past the Former Standard Bank, a grand building topped by a statue of Britannia, and turn right into Trafalgar Place, home to Cape Town’s flower sellers since 1860.

At the end of Trafalgar Place is the General Post Office. The ground floor is clogged by market stalls, but look above them to view colourful painted panels of Cape Town scenes.

Emerge onto Darling St to face Mutual Heights. At the crossing of Parliament and Longmarket Sts is Mullers Opticians, one of the most beautifully preserved art deco shopfronts in the city. A few steps further along Parliament St will bring you to Church Square to see Groote Kerk, the mother church of the Dutch Reformed Church, facing the old National Building.