De Waterkant House History

De Waterkant, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill and overlooking Table Bay, has a history that dates back to the 1700’s. Although De Waterkant forms part of the Bo-Kaap, which has buildings dating from the 1760’s, little is known about this area’s diverse cultural and architectural history.

A traditional residential area of Cape Town's Muslim community, the suburb has original cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses from the nineteenth century, Muslim shrines ("kramats") and mosques. Most of the residents are descended from slaves brought here by the Dutch in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They came from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. Today they are known as "Cape Malays", even though this term is incorrect, as most of them are not descended from Malaysians.The original architectural style used by the slaves is a mixture of Cape Dutch, from when the Dutch colonised the Cape after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, and Georgian, from when the British invaded the Cape in 1795 and 1806. Although the area’s architecture comes from European design, it originated from Oriental craftsmen. So, along with the buildings being both Cape Dutch and Georgian in style, it also has some element of eastern design. Proof of this can be seen in the verandas, which extend the full length of the front of most houses.