Cape Town City Hall

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Cape Town City Hall
Cape Town City Hall as seen from the Grand Parade.
Cape Town City Hall
The City Hall is located on the Grand Parade in central Cape Town, close to the Castle of Good Hope and the main railway station.
The City Hall is located on the Grand Parade in central Cape Town, close to the Castle of Good Hope and the main railway station.
Location in central Cape Town
General information
StatusRecently restored
TypeCity Hall
Architectural styleEdwardian
AddressGrand Parade (Cape Town)
Town or cityCape Town
CountrySouth Africa
Coordinates33°55′31″S 18°25′26″E / 33.92528°S 18.42389°E / -33.92528; 18.42389Coordinates: 33°55′31″S 18°25′26″E / 33.92528°S 18.42389°E / -33.92528; 18.42389
OwnerCity of Cape Town
Design and construction
Architect(s)Messrs Henry Austin Reid and Frederick George Green
Main contractorMessrs T. Howard and F. G. Scott

Cape Town City Hall is a large Edwardian building in Cape Town city centre which was built in 1905. It is located on the Grand Parade to the west of the Castle and is built from honey-coloured oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England.


The building was designed as the result of a public competition, the winning architects being Messrs Harry Austin Reid and Frederick George Green, with the contractors being Messrs T. Howard and F. G. Scott. Much of the building material, including fixtures and fittings was imported from Europe.

Auditorium with Organ

The Organ was built by Messrs Norman and Beard of London and Norwich, the specifications were drawn up by Sir George Martin, organist of St Paul's Cathedral in London especially for the City Hall. The workmanship and materials are of high quality, and the organ made from mahogany, teak and pine. Sir George Martin spoke of it as “a magnificent instrument in every gradation of tone, from the softest stop to the most powerful tuba being found in the organ, and all under the most perfect control, and that altogether the instrument must be regarded as an artistic and mechanical triumph”. There are altogether 3165 pipes varying from 32 feet (10 metres) to 34 inch (19 millimetres). The wind was supplied by a Kinetic Blower worked by an electric motor.

The tower of the City Hall has a Turret Clock which strikes the hours and chimes the Westminster quarters. The faces of the clock are made from 4 skeleton iron dials filled with opal. The clock has a 24-hour wheel and lever. The bells were cast by Messrs John Taylor and Co of Loughborough and the clock was supplied by JB Joyce & Co of Whitchurch.

The City Hall's carillon was installed as a World War I war memorial, with 22 additional bells being added in 1925 with the visit of the Prince of Wales.

On February 11, 1990, only hours after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall.

On 2 January 2022, the National Assembly building of the Parliament of South Africa was severely damaged in a fire at the parliamentary precinct. The City of Cape Town subsequently made the City Hall and Grand Parade available for President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address.[2] On 7 January, Parliament announced that Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address will take place at the City Hall on 10 February.[3][4] It will be attended by 300 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 70 guests to comply with COVID-19 regulations.[5]

The City Hall being lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag to indicate Cape Town's support for the country during the Russian invasion of 2022.

The hall was lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag on the night of 2 March 2022 to show the city's support for the country during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[6]

Contemporary use[edit]

The City Hall no longer houses the offices of the City of Cape Town, which are located in the Cape Town Civic Centre. From 1982 to 2008 it hosted the Central Library, which has since moved to the adjacent Old Drill Hall. The City Hall has become a central venue for creative and cultural events such as art exhibitions and concerts. One of these events includes the City Hall Sessions.[7] Perhaps the most widely publicized event held at the Cape Town City Hall is the Festive Lights Switch On, hosted by the City of Cape Town. The event is free to all, and includes top local performers, musicians and a projection mapping display on the facade of the building.[8]

Statue of Nelson Mandela[edit]

On 24 July 2018, a statue of Nelson Mandela on the balcony overlooking the Grand Parade was unveiled. It was on the same spot where he made a speech when he was released from prison on 11 February 1990.[9] A 3D computer model of the Nelson Mandela Statue was also created.[10] The 3D model is based on terrestrial laser scanning and photogrammetry.


A panoramic view of Cape Town's city hall including Grand Parade.

Documentation with 3D Laser Scanning[edit]

Between 2017 and 2018, the Zamani Project documented the Cape Town City Hall[11][12] with terrestrial 3D laser scanning. A textured 3D model and a Virtual-Tour (Panorama-Tour) is available on the City of Cape Town's website ([13][14] The non-profit research group from the University of Cape town (South Africa) specialises in 3D digital documentation of tangible cultural heritage. The data generated by the Zamani Project creates a permanent record that can be used for research, education, restoration, and conservation.[12][15][16]


An animation, based on the 3D model of the Cape Town City Hall was created by the Zamani Project.[17]


  1. ^ "Cape Town City Hall gets a new look | CapeTown ETC". Retrieved 2022-03-04.
  2. ^ "City of Cape Town offers its Council Chambers to Speaker of Parliament". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. ^ News, S. A. "State of the nation address moved to Cape Town City Hall after Parliament fire". Retrieved 2022-01-14. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ "Parliament decides to hold Sona at the Cape Town City Hall". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  5. ^ "Sona to be attended by only 300 MPs at Cape Town City Hall". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  6. ^ "Cape Town mayor pledges solidarity with Ukraine". BusinessLIVE. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  7. ^ "City Hall Sessions". News 24. 6 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Festive Lights Switch On". Cape Lasers. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  9. ^ "WATCH: Cape Town unveils new City Hall". Travellor24. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  10. ^ "3D model of Nelson Mandela statue". Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  11. ^ Wild, Sarah (18 December 2018). "Africa's great heritage sites are being mapped out with point precision lasers". Quartz Africa. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  12. ^ a b Rüther, Heinz. "An African heritage database – The virtual preservation of Africa's past" (PDF).
  13. ^ "City Hall". Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  14. ^ "Virtual Tour - of the Cape Town City Hall". City of Cape Town. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  15. ^ Rajan, Rahim S.; Rüther, Heinz (2007-05-30). "Building a Digital Library of Scholarly Resources from the Developing World: An Introduction to Aluka". African Arts. 40 (2): 1–7. doi:10.1162/afar.2007.40.2.1. ISSN 0001-9933. S2CID 57558501.
  16. ^ Rüther, Heinz; Rajan, Rahim S. (December 2007). "Documenting African Sites: The Aluka Project". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. University of California Press. 66 (4): 437–443. doi:10.1525/jsah.2007.66.4.437. JSTOR 10.1525/jsah.2007.66.4.437.
  17. ^ 3D Heritage Documentation of the Cape Town City Hall - Animation of 3D model, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2019-10-02

See also[edit]