At the foot of the Grandiose Edwardian Town Hall sits the oldest public space in the Mother City. The Grand Parade is a beacon within the busy streets of Cape Town.
The many faces of the Grand Parade
Dating back to the time of Dutch occupation, the Grand Parade has played a big part in the history of South Africa. Various events have taken place at the Parade, which has brought many different affluent and influential people to the grounds in the heart of the Mother City.
On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed crowds for the first time in three decades. People flooded the parade grounds to glimpse the historical figure who would later triumph as the president of South Africa. Today, the Balcony houses a statue in his honour in the same place where he made his iconic speech.
The former Drill House, where Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 21st Birthday, towers over the Grand Parade In 1947 the Queen, Then Princess, held a Grand Ball, where she received a golden birthday key. Her speech made on this day was filled with praise for the South African people and their hospitality towards the Royal family.
Market day at the Grand Parade
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Grand Parade turns into a buzzing community of sellers and buyers. The Grand Parade Market is a beacon in the City Bowl and sports a vibrant City feel. Just like Cape Town, the flea market has many hidden gems.
The Buildings of the Grand Parade
The Grand Parade is somewhat overshadowed by the picturesque Edwardian Building that sits at the foot of the Parade grounds. This building, known as old Town Hall. The Building was built as result of a competition, where 4 architects won the rights to design and erect the building. Many of the materials, fixtures, as well as the building style, was sourced from Europe. The building is home to various wonders, including a breath-taking Auditorium. The center element of the auditorium is an organ, designed by the head organist of the St Paul’s Cathedral London of the time, Sir George Martin. The organ has 3165 pipes and was described by Sir George Martin as “a magnificent instrument in every gradation of tone”. It’s the only auditorium in South Africa that can house a 180 piece orchestra.
Today, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra calls it home. There are various concerts taking place at City hall throughout the year. Every day at 11 am the public is invited to witness the orchestra’s dress rehearsal.
The old Drill house has been restored and now houses Cape Town’s largest collection of books, as the Central Library. The Library has five different departments.
Join us on our City Cycle Tour and discover the heritage of the Grand Parade! Other stops on this tour include the Green market Square, Company gardens, the Bo-Kaap, and many more hidden gems of the Mother City.