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This colorful neighbourhood situated at the foot of Signal Hill is one of the oldest urban residential areas in Cape Town. Bo-kaap has been home to people of various origins and religions. Many of the families in the Bo-Kaap have been living there for generations. Most of them are descendants of the slaves who were imported by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These slaves were from Malaysia, Indonesia, other parts of Asia and the rest of Africa. And because the majority of them came from the Malay Archipelago, they became known as the Cape Malays and the Bo-kaap was called the Malay Quarter.

The long history of the Bo-kaap dates back to the 1760’s when Jan de Waal built several small rental houses, which he rented out to his slaves. At that time, all the houses had to be white. When the slaves were freed and were allowed to buy their own properties in 1834, all the houses were painted in bright colors as an expression of their freedom.

Since the second half of the eighteenth century, the Bo-kaap has been the traditional home of Cape Town’s Muslim community. There are at least nine mosques in this neighborhood. The oldest is the Auwal Mosque in Dorp Street, built in 1794. This community is not only a symbol of freedom but also has invaluable historical and heritage value.

The vibrant picturesque terraced houses and steep cobbled streets make it a very popular spot in the city.