The Company's Garden

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In Cape Town

-33.9266, 18.4175

 

+27 21 487 6800 www.capetown.gov.za

About

The Company's Garden is located right at the heart of Cape Town's city centre and is a must-see on any visit to Cape Town. Access to the public park, which contains a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond, aviary and tea garden, is free.

The Company's Garden was established by the first Dutch settlers in the 1650s. South Africa's first cultivated pear tree has stood here since 1652, while various developments have taken place around it.

The garden was originally designed to service and reprovision spice-trading sailing ships on the long sea route to the east. Cape Town's earliest records show that the garden was originally divided into rectangular fields protected by high, trimmed myrtle windbreaks and watered via a system of open irrigation furrows fed by the area's numerous mountain streams. The design was typical Dutch agricultural practice of the time, apart from the furrows, which had been adapted to suit the region's topography and weather.

During the 17th century, Cape Town grew significantly, fuelled in no small part by its role in supplying ships engaged in foreign wars. The garden expanded accordingly and became famous for its plants, which were increasingly exported.

When the British occupied the Cape, they invested little money or interest in the garden, shutting down its horticultural function and closing it to the public.

Later, portions of the gardens were used to build important institutional buildings and the gardens themselves were again given to the governor for his use. In 1892, the municipality took over the gardens and opened them to the public in 1898.

Today, it is a popular venue for festivals as well as being home to the South African National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament. There are also a number of museums in the vicinity, including the Iziko Museums’ South African Museum, the South African Jewish Museum and the District Six Museum.

Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks along the tree-lined paths while taking in some of the more than 8 000 species of plants contained in the Company’s Garden.

Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town

Photography: Chris Marais/Mainline Media