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Cape Town Neighbourhoods and How They Got Their Names

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Bordered by the cold Atlantic Ocean and adorned by one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of South Africa‘s oldest cities and prime tourist destinations.

According to oral tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation, its early inhabitants were the Khoisan populations, who called the area ”//Hui !Gaeb”, meaning “where cloud gather”. When Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias landed in the region, he named it “Cabo das Tormentas”, meaning “Cape of Storms”, because of its perilous seas and inclement weather. The area was a key stop for traders and explorers making their way to India and the East, thus earning the nickname “Cape of Good Hope” (in Portuguese, “Cabo da Boa Esperança”) for its provision of fresh water, supplies, and beautiful scenery. The name “Cape of Good Hope” was used to refer to the whole region, and in 1901, it became known as Cape Province.

Here’s a look at how other popular neighbourhoods in Cape Town got their names.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay is one of Cape Town’s most affluent suburbs, being a prime holiday destination for tourists and home to over 60 multi-millionaires. The average price of a home is over $ 11 million (over R15 million).

According to historians, the area was a farm owned by Fredrick Ernst Von Kamptz. Von Kamptz lost the land when the American War of Independence broke out in 1777. The French and Dutch sided with America against the English, and fleets were dispatched to the cape in order to acquire much needed supplies. In addition, trenches were dug up on Von Kamptz’s farm, along the kloof nek territory, and were used by the French as fortification in protection of the Dutch. The area came to be known as Camps Bay, taking its name from Von Kamptz.

Constantia

Constantia is one of Cape Town’s most affluent neighbourhoods, located south of the city. It is also a wine-producing suburb which used to be home to Governor Simon van der Stel in the 1680s.

According to historians, van der Stel named the farm area after the daughter of the Commissioner Rijcklof van Goens, who made the original grant for the ownership of the farm, Constantia. The name was also popular during the time. After his death in 1712, the estate was divided into three parts: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, and Bergvliet.

Clifton

Clifton is South Africa’s prime residential area located on the Atlantic Seaboard. It has the most expensive real estate in the country, and it is home to approximately 30 multi-millionaires.

The first inhabitants of the area were the San populations, until the arrival of the Dutch and Portuguese from the 1700s.

The neighbourhood was named after Bessie Clifton, who ran the only hotel in the area around 1890. Holidaymakers from the city of Cape Town and surrounding areas used to make Clifton-on-Sea their summer vacation destination. As time went on, people began building small beach houses and vacation homes there.

Bantry Bay

Bantry Bay, located on the slopes of Lion’s Head by the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, is one of Cape Town’s most affluent suburbs, with homes averaging a price of over $16 million (over R21 million). Because of its location, it is best known for its wind-free status, which is significant considering Cape Town’s windy climate.

The original name for the area was Botany Bay, after a botanical garden that was planted there for the cultivation of medicinal herbs; the name was changed during World War I.

Hout Bay

Hout Bay is situated in a valley on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula. It is also home to one of the world’s most scenic mountain drives, Chapman’s Peak Drive, which was hacked out of the face of the Chapman’s Peak Mountain between 1915 and 1922.

Hout Bay means “bay of wood” in Dutch, and was named by early explorers after it became well-known for being a good source of wood for ship-building and repairs. It was a prime fishing and agricultural community for over three hundred years as well.

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is one of Cape Town’s most scenic neighbourhoods, and one of the country’s top wine-producing areas.

The area, along with Constantia, was founded by Governor Simon van der Stel in the 1670s. He found the area to be suitable for agriculture because of its fertile land, and named it Stellenbosch after himself – the name meaning “van der Stel’s bush”.

Khayelitsha

Home to over 300,000 people, Khayelitsha is one of South Africa’s largest and fastest growing townships.

The area was built after the Group Areas Act under apartheid was enforced in Cape Town. This act catered to people coming in from the neighbouring Eastern Cape province in search of work, and to deal with overcrowding from other townships in Cape Town. Khayelitsha means “our new home” in Xhosa, presumably named by the majority of Xhosa populations that lived in the area when it was established.

District Six

District Six, located in the city bowl of Cape Town and made up of the neighbourhoods- Walmer Estate, Zonnebloem, and Lower Vrede, was an impoverished but lively community of predominantly Cape-Coloured residents during the apartheid era.

The area got its name after being called the sixth district of Cape Town in 1867. It was originally established as a community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers, and immigrants, and when forced removals and marginalization took place in the 20th century, it became a neglected ward of Cape Town. It was further demolished after the introduction of the Group Areas Act in the 1960s. Along with Johannesburg’s Sophiatown, District Six became one of the prominent international symbols of the injustices committed under apartheid.

Bishopscourt

Bishopscourt, located on the slopes of Table Mountain in the Constantia Valley, is one of Cape Town’s most affluent neighbourhoods, with homes averaging over $8 million (over R11 million). It is also close to tourist hotspots such as the Constantia Wine Route and the Kirstenbosch Gardens.

The area was first named “Bosheuvel”, and was a farm owned by Jan van Riebeeck, a worker for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to oversee the setting up of a refreshment station that supplied Dutch ships to the East. The estate was bought for the Anglican Church in 1849, and subsequently became known as Bishop’s Court- the official residence for the Anglican Bishops and Archbishops of Cape Town.

Llandudno

Situated in the west slopes of Table Mountain, Llandudno is one of Cape Town’s prime residential neighbourhoods with homes averaging over $ 8 million (over R11 million). It is popular for having unspoiled beaches, no street lamps, and no retail outlets.

Additionally, it was home to the San and Khoikhoi before the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. After the Dutch landed on the shores of the area, it was named after Llandudno in Wales- meaning “Parish of St. Tudno”. Llandudno, or St. Tudno, is said to be the first person to bring Christianity to a part of Wales.

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South African journalist based in Johannesburg. A Wits University graduate, Lebo enjoys writing lifestyle and entertainment stories.

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