Heritage Square

Landmarks / Shopping in or near CBD, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsHeritage Square

Where? Corner of Bree Street and Shortmarket, Cape Town Central, City Bowl, Cape Town

Overnight? Accommodation in CBD, in Western Cape

Heritage Square is one of Cape Town's most successful urban renewal projects. It lies right at the heart of the city flanked by Hout, Buitengracht and Shormarket streets, just off the now fashionable foodie destination of Bree Street.

The over 200 year old buildings, originally built for both residential and commercial use, lies in the city's west, earmarked during the latter years of apartheid for demolition to make way for a 2 000 bay parking garage and a freeway.

In an example of how public pressure brings about change, the block was rezoned for commercial use and the Cape Town Heritage Trust and Shortmarket Properties co-operated in a huge private conservation project to restore the buildings to their original Dutch or Georgian façades, their inner workings more modern to suit today's commercial market.

Back in the day this would have been a space where bakers, cigarette makers and gunsmiths plied their wares. An undertaker operated from the corner of Bree and Shortmarket Street, whilst 90 Bree Street was Neale's Boarding house.

Today it includes the Heritage Hotel, a number of good quality restaurants, including Africa Café, and a courtyard (filled with chairs and tables that makes a wonderful lunch time spot) in which a grape vine has been growing since the 1770s, still producing grapes for wine today.

Now on the property of the Cape Heritage Hotel there is speculation that the vine is probably the oldest fruit-bearing vine in the southern hemisphere.

The Crouchen Blanc vine would have arrived in the Cape from the Western Pyrenees of France as part of Van Riebeeck's push to provide wine on board ships as a cure for scurvy (the commonly held belief in those days). It apparently produces enough fruit for about 20 litres of wine today (visit the winery and restaurant, Dorrance, for more on the vine).

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