Colours of Cape Town

Rule of odds three houses in three colours in cape town south africa

The most beautiful city in the world

I am fortunate to be able to spend time in Cape Town, South Africa regularly. Cape Town to me is the most beautiful city in the world. It’s not so much the city itself, but the setting in which it is placed. If you like travel photography, or landscape photography or food photography, you should absolutely come and pay a visit.

The City Bowl, the city centre, is just that, it’s like a bowl between the slopes of Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Capetonians like to call it the Mother City as it was here where the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, build a pit stop on their way to the colonies in the East Indies. You can still find the Company’s Garden that were created to provide the ships with fresh food for the rest of their trip, either to Jakarta or the East or to back to Amsterdam. What was supposed to be just a stop-over between Europe and the Indies is now a big city.

Cape Town with Table Mountain
The Ciity Bowl is the part below Table Mountain. Here you can clearly see how flat it looks

The backdrop of Table Mountain creates something truly spectacular. Even though not exactly flat as you will notice when you walk on top of it, from a distance it looks very flat indeed. There are days when the ‘table’ even has a tablecloth in the form of clouds that roll over the edge and quickly evaporate. The mountain rise 1,085 meters above sea level.

Colours of Bo-kaap

Today however I want to show you the most colourful neighbourhood of Cape Town: Bo-kaap. Bo-kaap is Afrikaans and means ‘above the Cape’, because it’s situated on the slopes of Signal Hill. This quarter is known for its colourful facades and is a joy for the eye.

This has not always been like this. The first houses were built to be rented to slaves. The Dutch imported the slaves mainly from Malaysia, Indonesia, other part of Asia and Africa. Most of them were Muslim and several mosques were built as well. This happened in the end of the 1700’s, beginning of the 1800’s. At that time the houses were all painted white. When the slaves were finally able to buy the houses as their property, the rule that all houses must be painted white was lifted. With their newly gained freedom they expressed this in painting their houses with the bright colours you still find today.

Street in Bo-kaap with Signall Hill on the background
Wale Street in Bo-kaap with Signall Hill on the background

Apart from the colours of the houses, this quarter is also famous for its cuisine. It’s called Cape Malay and is a fusion between Asian and  East African flavours with some European influence. There are plenty of restaurants here and you can even have a Cape Malay cooking lesson.

Taking photos of Bo-kaap

I’m not an architectural photographer, but with all these colours, who can leave their camera at home? You can play with all the colours and the shapes. In the photos shown in this post I have taken a more abstract and geometrical route. As you can see I have focused on the details. I did not want to take photos everybody takes, there should be something of me in my photos. In this series, I have tried to simplify as much as possible, leaving out what I thought was distracting or not necessary.

For the photo below I saw this cloud drifting by and I moved myself in such a way that it was just where I wanted it. The cloud gives this extra touch the photo needed.

Cloud drifting by over two houses in Bo-kaap
Cloud drifting by in just the right place

There was a lot more going on around this place, so I decided to zoom in to just the balloon and the bars of a window. The high sun brings out the texture on the wall.

White balloon on a blue wall
Don’t let your dreams fly away

With the next photo I saw the tree on top of a green painted house and I just had to take a photo of it. What attracted me was the little tree and the wall that was also green. The stark linear shape of the house is softened by the tree and the clouds.

Green house with little tree and a blue sky
Green house effect

Very simple and happy photo. Green and orange are complementary colours, so look beautiful together. The shade gives this photo some movement.

Plant box casting shade on an orange wall
Complementary colours and a little shade

The photo below is not exactly symmetrical, but with two doors and two colours there is some balance. I love the old doors that seem in contrast with the vibrant colours of the walls that give the house a much more modern look.

Red and blue houses with two doors
Which door do you choose? Red or blue?

The white line on the green wall caught my attention. The white gate repeats the stepped line below and shows where the stairs are leading to. I decided to crop this photo into a rectangular shape, so the stairs become a kind of a diagonal leading you from left to right.

Stairs with a white stepped line
Green stairs with a white line

This post was a little different this time, with not much Nature, but I hope all the colours made you feel happy. Colours are an important part of photography and these bright colours made me feel good, so I wanted to share that with you. I’ll be back next week with something new. Stay tuned.

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