The historic Greenmarket Square in CBD Cape Town
In Cape Towns’ CBD located between Longmarket and Shortmarket Streets, a vibrant little flea market called Greenmarket Square has captured the heartbeat of Cape Town in its display, expression and experience of African art, crafts, curios and music…
The historic Greenmarket Square in CBD Cape Town has been captured over and over again by photographers, painters and writers. Greenmarket Square has made it into countless brochures, coffee table books and visitor information guides on Cape Town and its local craft & curio markets.
Greenmarket Square was built in 1696, in front of the Old Townhouse which was built in 1755 and served as the city hall of Cape Town. Since then, this central square functioned as a slave market, parking lot, vegetable market and finally for the last couple of years…
Greenmarket square has been made famous by its African Flea market selling beautifully handmade crafts and curios which turn out to be perfect souvenirs for tourists visiting Cape Town…
Walk between the stalls and browse the creative stations selling jewellery and leather jackets, pottery, pictures, instruments, creative art and colourful African clothing.
Enjoy the sound & flurry of many different African languages combined with the incessant calls & signals to draw you to their stalls.
Tables & shelves, floors & steps & precarious platforms balance a multitude of curios cleverly created out of various woods, copper wire, tin, soap stone, ebony, beads, animal skins and even recycled trash. Don’t believe everything is authentic though, just because the masks smell smoky and were “last worn by the chief of Timbuktu” or the glass beads “have been collected from ancient shipwrecks on the shores of the skeleton coast,” Most however is beautifully carved & serves as a perfect memory of Africa as long as you don’t get sucked into the mass produced Chinese sunglasses stalls.
Like a good sandwich many businesses surround the flea market. Walking up Shortmarket Street from St George’s Mall Street, one is greeted by the many different coffee shops surrounding the popular market. Drink a smoothie at Kauai or a decent cup of coffee at Café Sante on the corner. Further along on the right you will find Mumbo Jumbo Café&Bar, Bellini and the interesting spots like Baran’s Kurdish Restaurant Shisha & Coffee Bar. Along this street you will also find Coffee Hausbrandt, Crispies Fish & Chips, the trendy Crave Sandwhich shop or great Mediterranean cuisine with an African flavor at Da Capo.
When taking a walk on the second side of the square parallel to Burg Street, expect to see the Inn on the Square with the hotel’s Dish Restaurant adjacent to their Cigar Lounge. More accommodation across the hotel in Longmarket Street can also be found at the Tudor Hotel on the corner.
Take a stunning photograph at the historical Central Methodist Mission church and appreciate architecture of old. Across the ancient church you can also visit the Michaelis Collection at the Old Town House which is known as the most important collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the southern hemisphere…
When turning the last corner of the market, the Sun Building which houses Protea Assurance also opens doors on the street to Standard Bank, Anastacia Coffee & Ice-Cream Shop, Gold & Diamonds, Perio Verde Jewellery Design and also Vida e Caffé where you can enjoy free Wi-Fi.
Greenmarket Square is a must see to any tourist visiting Cape Town and also calls every local to rediscover their African heritage while listening to an old man playing his guitar on the street corner or the beat of a bongo drum embracing the soul of the city…
Where to go:
- Greenmarket square is located between Shortmarket, Longmarket, Burg and St George’s Mall Street.
When to go:
- Everyday from early morning to late afternoon.
What to expect:
- Flea Market with Clothing, Curios, Arts and Crafts
- Restaurants/Coffee Shops
- Old Church/Museum
- Haggling for the best price is standard. A general guide can be to half the asking price and haggle up to about 50% above that. Be fair though. These guys make their living this way.
- Rather leave your valuables at home whilst walking through the centre of town and don’t leave purses unattended or bags open & you should have a fun and pleasant experience
Photography: Jared Coetzee