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Western Cape
Attractions
Museums
Culture
History
Cape Town
Meet South Africa

YYou'll find the Bo-Kaap Museum, which showcases South Africa's Islamic heritage, in the cheerful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood of multi-coloured houses established centuries back by freed slaves.  

These former slaves, many of whom hailed from South East Asia and practiced the Muslim faith, became known as the Cape Malay, and it is believed that they were instrumental in the formation of the Afrikaans language, a version of Dutch simplified for easier communication between the Dutch settlers and workers. 

The Bo-Kaap Museum in Wale Street falls under the Iziko Museums of Cape Town. It is in the process of transformation into a social history museum that will tell the story of the local population within a cultural and socio-political context.  

The museum occupies an original 1768 house, furnished as a 19th century home of a Muslim family.  

As you relive the history of the Bo-Kaap community, you'll learn about its customs and beliefs, and how it was affected by the political ideology and discriminatory legislation of apartheid.  

Despite the efforts of the apartheid government to move all communities of colour outside the boundaries of Cape Town, this vibrant working-class population stubbornly continued to exist on the doorstep of the city on the slopes of Signal Hill. 

After your visit to this urban museum, take a walk around the area and if you’re there at the right time of day, listen out for the muezzin's calls to prayer.   

Not far from the museum you'll find the oldest mosque in South Africa, the Auwal Mosque, built at the turn of the 18th century. Nearby is the oldest Muslim cemetery in the country, the Tana Baru. 

The Bo-Kaap is also the heart of traditional Cape Malay cuisine so treat yourself to a spicy curry and some syrupy pastries. And spend a few moments chatting to the people of Bo-Kaap for some great insights into their daily lives. 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & planning  info 

Who to contact 

Bo-Kaap Museum 
Tel: +27 (0)21 481 3939 
Email: info@iziko.org.za 

What will it cost 

Entrance fees: Adults R20; 6 to18 years R10; under 5s free. Free entrance on select commemorative days.  

How to get here  

The Bo-Kaap is a short drive from Cape Town's city centre. If you don't have a car, take a cab. 

Best time to visit 

The museum is open from 9am to 4pm from Mondays to Saturdays. 

Things to do 

A private guide will take you around Bo-Kaap visiting the museum, the cemetery and the mosque, at the same time filling you in on the area's culture and religion. The tour takes around two hours and costs about R120 per person. Contact the Bo-Kaap museum for guide references. 

From the Bo-Kaap you are just a short distance from major city attractions as well as other museums such as the Gold of Africa Museum, District Six Museum and the Castle of Good Hope. 

What to pack 

A comfortable pair of walking shoes. Dress modestly if you intend going into one of the neighbourhood mosques. 

Where to stay 

Just about anywhere in Cape Town, although there are many accommodation options near the museum, in the city bowl as well as surrounding suburbs. 

What to eat 

Keep an eye out for Cape Malay dishes in the Bo-Kaap, like a spicy bobotie (baked mince with egg custard) or a sticky-sweet pastry know as a koeksister. Some restaurants with long-established reputations are Biesmiellah and Bo-Kaap Kombuis. Note that the festival of Ramadan may affect restaurant trading hours. 

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