10 Little-Known Facts about Cape Town

Think you know everything there is to know about the Mother City? Well, think again. First Car Rental brings you a Top 10 list of fun and interesting facts you might not know about the Mother City.

First Car Rental offers cheap car hire in Cape Town to help you explore and enjoy the City.

1. Romance on the mountain

Romance on the Table Mountain

The Table Mountain may be one of the oldest mountains in the world (around 280 million years old), but romance on top of this mountain never gets old. It's estimated that two couples get engaged on the mountain every month.

And did you know? The Table Mountain only looks flat from one side, the overlying mountains to the south west are known as the Twelve Apostles. Also, there are an estimated 2,200 species of plants on the mountain alone, many of which are endemic to the mountain and can be found nowhere else in the world.

2. Everyone is young

Everyone is young in Cape Town

Despite being the oldest city in South Africa, the 2011 national census reports that almost half (43.2%) of the Western Cape's population is below the age of 25. It could be said that the city is a fountain of youth.

3. Trophy homes

Trophy homes in Cape Town

Cape Town is home to some of the most lux and upmarket homes. These homes come with a steep price tag of over R200 million and 7 of the most expensive suburbs in the country are in the Atlantic Seaboard alone.

According to property group, Seeff, about R1 billion worth of trophy home sales were sold across Cape Town in 2015, most in suburbs such as Clifton, Camps Bay, Bantry Bay and Fresnaye.

4. Mensa

Mensa Constellation

The Table Mountain is the only mountain in the world to have a constellation of stars named after it.

Mensa, which is the Latin word for 'table', is one of twelve constellations that was drawn up in the 18th century by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille out of dim Southern Hemisphere stars in honour of Table Mountain.

After a visit to South Africa, he recalled how Table Mountain was often covered in clouds when a south-easterly stormy wind blew, which is why he made a 'table' in the sky under the clouds.

5. Tobogganing

Tobogganing at Cool Runnings, Cape Town

Cape Town is home to the Africa's first downhill tobogganing track. Aptly titled 'Cool Runnings' after the film about Jamaica's first bobsled team, the track is located just 25km outside of the city centre on Carl Cronje Drive.

Visitors can go hurtling down a half-pipe in a bobsled, flying through the twists and curves along the 1.25 km track. It's fun for kids and adults, and it's completely safe, offering a thrilling combination of speed and skill.

6. Tavern of the Seas

The Port of Cape Town

The Port of Cape Town is also known as the 'Tavern of the Seas' as is one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world and retains strategic and economic importance.

The port also has significant repair and maintenance facilities that are used by several large fishing fleets and parts of the West African oil industry. Port of Cape Town handles the largest amount of fresh fruit and is second only to Durban as a container port.

Thanks to the many tourist attractions offered by Cape Town and its surrounding region, many cruise ships also berth in the port.

7. Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

Bo-Kaap is one of Cape Town's most distinct neighbourhoods, characterized by brightly painted houses. But do you know how these houses got their colours?

The original residents of this area were descendants of slaves brought in from Africa and Asia and were Muslims. As part of celebrating the Holy month of Ramadan, it is tradition to dress up in brightly coloured clothes as well as paint houses.

However, in the 1760s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were leased to slaves. all the houses had to be white. When this rule was eventually lifted, and the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, all the houses were painted bright colours by their owners as an expression of their freedom.

The residents discussed and picked the colours they were painting their houses to avoid colour clashes, or two houses being painted the same colour next to each other.

8. Long Street

Long Street, Cape Town

Did you know? Long Street was originally called De Derde Berg Dwars Straat that roughly translates to 'the third road parallel to the mountain'. The name was changed to Long Street in the 1790's.

Long Street is one of Cape Town's oldest streets and is, not surprisingly, quite long at 1.7km in length. Running all the way from the Cape Town Convention Centre, cutting through the middle of the CBD, and ending at Kloof Street, Long Street is a major part of the City's street culture. A host of interesting shops, restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés line the street, making it the City's funkiest bohemian haunts.

9. Hoerikwaggo

Hoerikwaggo, Table Mountain, Cape Town

The indigenous people of the Cape, the Khoikhoi, referred to Table Mountain as Hoerikwaggo, which translates to 'Mountain of the Sea.'

It wasn't until 1503 when Portuguese explorer, Antionio de Saldanha, the first white man to hike the Mountain, named it Taboa de Cabo, meaning 'Table of the Cape.' In 1652 Dutch settlers started calling it Tafelberg, which translates from Dutch to its current name, Table Mountain.

10. Sea view

Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town

Cape Town's famous landmark, the Castle of Good Hope, is the oldest colonial building in South Africa (built between 1666 and 1679), and at one time, the star-shaped building had waves lapping at the entry point (the entrance was later moved for this very reason).

The structure, which was once a fort, served as a welcoming port for sailors travelling around the Cape - an often arduous journey. Despite popular belief, it was not built by Jan van Riebeeck; a temporary clay and wooden fort was built during his time at the now Golden Acre shopping centre.

Today, the castle exists as a ceremonial base for Cape regiments of the South African Defence Force.

Now that you are clued-up on all the quirky facts about Cape Town, pack your bags and head out to explore the Mother City.

First Car Rental offers cheap car hire in Cape Town. Book a car with First Car Rental and we'll take you to your next big adventure.

First in Car Hire. First in Service.