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BBuilt in 1905, Cape Town’s City Hall is the first place from where Nelson Mandela spoke after his release from prison in 1990.

The honey-coloured City Hall in Cape Town has seen many changes in its years of standing vigil on the Grand Parade. It has seen South Africa develop into the multi-cultural melting pot that it is today, and played a very important role in that change.

Addressing over 10 000 jubilant people just hours after his release, Mandela famously had to borrow his wife’s reading glasses as he had left his in prison. His speech, started with the words: "Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom. I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you the people."

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NNelson Mandela made his first free speech from a balcony at the Cape Town City Hall in 1990.

TThe Hall itself is made up of components from all over the world. The honey-coloured stone, which makes up its façade of limestone, was imported from Bath in England. The tower houses a clock and a number of bells, modelled on the famous Big Ben. The clock strikes the hours and chimes the Westminster quarters, which is a particular chime originating from St Mary’s Cathedral in England. The faces of the clock are made from four skeleton iron dials filled with opal. Originally built to house the City of Cape Town’s offices, it now plays host to a number of cultural and artistic events such as performances by the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra.

A Grand old building Cape Town’s City Hall

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IIn 2017, it was proposed that a full size statue of Nelson Mandela be installed on the balcony from where he famously addressed his people. An exhibition inside the City Hall dedicated to the great man will also be a permanent feature.

TThe City Hall and Grand Parade are adjacent to the Castle of Good Hope, also a historic and very interesting landmark. Visiting the City Hall is a must for anyone who is following the Cape Town Liberation Route, as well as anyone who is interested in architecture. The beautiful old building still has many stories to tell.

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