Western Cape Tourist AttractionsGrand Parade
Where? Darling Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
In the build up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup the Grand Parade, South Africa's oldest public space, received a facelift to the tune of R21 million to upgrade and repave what were the rather tired remains of a major landmark.
Grand Parade, as its name suggests, served as a military parade ground for many years and as a stage for public participation, be it as a venue for major political rallies or flea market stalls.
Its greatest claim to fame, however, is that it was where Nelson Mandela addressed the nation after his release in 1990, and again in 1994 following his election as president.
The major upgrade of the space was intended to place Grand Parade back at the heart of the city, and certainly during the 2010 World Cup it functioned as a major fan park for football fans, whilst the usual traders were moved to Castle Street, the Castle's lawns and other sites. The intention is also to improve the trading area that functions as a daily market.
Overlooking it are the limestone walls, and Renaissance-style columns of the City Hall, its clock tower more than a little reminiscent of Big Ben. Built in 1905 with limestone imported from Bath in England, Cape Town City Hall was the last major Victorian building to go up in the city.
Its mosaic floors, marble staircase, stained glass windows and 3165 pipe organ - the specifications of which were drawn up Sir George Martin, organist of St Paul's Cathedral in London - remain imposing and beautiful reminders of its historical significance. Next door in the Old Drill Hall is the City Library.
The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, a multi-functional, full-time professional symphony orchestra, claims City Hall as its home and regularly performs in City Hall's auditorium (on most Thursdays). The venue also hosts choir competitions, school bands, variety shows, African music, jazz and more.