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The Malay Quarter of Cape Town: Bo-Kaap

Another place in Cape Town often visited by tourists is the so-called Malay Quarter of Bo-Kaap. This characteristic neighborhood of the city is located along the slopes of Signal Hill, a 350 meters high hill located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Castle of Good Hope. The Malay Quarter of Bo-Kaap is a historic and picturesque area of Cape Town. This is also the place where the Cape Malays community traditionally lived and still lives, this is the traditional center of their culture.


The neighborhood is characterized by numerous mosques and low houses from the early 19th century, painted in pastel colors. In the neighborhood there is also the Bo-Kaap Museum, located in the oldest house in the area built in the years around 1760. The museum deals with the history of the Malay community and the contribution it made to the growth of the city during the Dutch and English periods.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa. Author Marco Ramerini

The Cape Malay community is an ethnic group made up mainly of people from Indonesia, the former Dutch East Indies. The first group of Malays slaves was brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) a few years after the founding of Cape Town.

Later, political dissidents and religious leaders who opposed Dutch rule in the East Indies, enlarged the community. This is a community that today has around 166,000 people in Cape Town. The members of this community overwhelmingly speak Afrikaans. In addition to the Islamic religion, there are still many cultural traditions of the community still alive, such as food and traditional music.

During a visit to Cape Town some typical dishes of this community are to be tasted. Cape Malay cuisine is characterized by the combination of local products with Asian spices. Among the most popular dishes are Bobotie, curried meat with eggs and rice, and Waterblommetjie bredie, a lamb stew.

This post is also available in: German

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