“Sketch of the old Reserve Bank”
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has been creating, enhancing and caring for landmark properties around the world for over 100 years and Taj Cape Town, with its blend of the heritage buildings and the ‘modern’ tower is a perfect reflection of this urban revival in Cape Town’s heritage area.
The seed of what would become the City of Cape Town was the need for a vegetable garden and a hospital which led to the refreshment station established in 1652 at the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Company.
The hospital, which was built on the site bounded by today’s Adderley, Wale, St. George’s and Longmarket Streets would, along with the Company Gardens, become the city’s historical and cultural core. An area which has become synonymous with the the city’s cosmopolitan culture, and history, travellers can find a wealth of heritage sites, museums, galleries, street markets, restaurants, bars and trendy retail stores are all within walking distance.
It’s entirely fitting then that in Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces would beautifully restore the South African Reserve Bank and the adjacent Temple Chambers, both national monuments built on the same property as the original hospital and across the road from the gardens, into the 176-roomed hotel.
Every effort has been made to remain as faithful as possible to the internal historic structure of the buildings, giving Taj Cape Town a blend of old-world charm and elegance. The facades were restored and modern external interventions kept to a minimum, while internally every effort was made to remain historically faithful while maintaining and restoring as many of the important historic rooms as possible.
The hotel is a celebration of the old and the new with a design vision which creates a synthesis between the two historic buildings on the site and the contemporary building that rises out as a new tower amidst Cape Town’s iconic skyline.
An iconic example of the gradual renaissance of Cape Town’s inner city, and a central five-star base in a city that is taking exciting strides forward in art, design, fashion and food while still honouring its history and heritage.
Groote Kerk or “Great Church” is the mother church of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the oldest existing church in southern Africa, being the first Christian place of worship to be erected in the Cape, following the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652.
The church has endured much, and nearly 80 years after the cornerstone was first placed restoration work to the church became necessary. By the end of August 1835, the church had to be vacated, and its services were transferred to the Lutheran Church in Strand Street. Eventually the entire building, with the exception of its steeple and its vestry, was demolished and replaced by a new structure designed and the new building, a peculiar combination of Greek and Gothic styles, was inaugurated on 31 January 1841.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church, Strand Street, Cape Town was built in the early 1780s after non-Calvinist Protestants were finally given permission to worship on 23 October 1779. For more than a century, the Dutch East India Company had banned any religious practice besides the Dutch Reformed Church and in 1774, Martin Melck sponsored a warehouse in Strand Street to prove that the congregation had the necessary means to finance a preacher and build a church of their own.
It took years of petitioning from the mainly German Lutheran population in the colony before the first sermon was preached on 10 December 1780 by Minister Andreas Lutgerus Kolver. Services are still offered every Sunday from the ornately carved pulpit making it one of the oldest operating churches in Cape Town.
Fondly known as “the people’s cathedral”, St George’s Cathedral in Wale Street is the oldest Cathedral in southern Africa as well as the Mother Church of the diocese. Standing in the heart of Cape Town, looking down Saint George’s Mall, the church flanks the entrance to the Company Gardens.
A gorgeous example of Victorian era design with magnificent stained glass windows, the church was built in the style of St Pancras Church in London, featuring six stone pillars whose places are marked today by oak trees on the Cathedral steps.
St George’s famously kept its doors open to people of all races throughout the apartheid era, and it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after he led a mass demonstration of 30 000 people to Grand Parade in 1989, who coined the phrase ‘rainbow people’ to describe South Africa’s diverse population.