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Our Favourite Cape Town Historical ‘Secrets’ Worth Exploring This Weekend

Story from: 2oceansvibe.com

Finding something to do in Cape Town really doesn’t require much effort.

Although it was only first mentioned in written history by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias back in 1486, the Mother City has been the location of historical activity for centuries.

All happening within the 2 400 square kilometre area that makes up the Cape Town metro, while many physical references to the past have been buried beneath modern-day developments, there are some that still remain.

Dotted here and there, many historical citations can be found living and breathing among us, from old buildings to obscure trees, and even tables set for ghosts.

The Inside Guide uncovered some these best secrets from the Cape, and here are a few of our favourites:

The Treaty Tree

Where: Woodstock
What is it: A Milkwood, it’s the spot where the Dutch surrendered control of the Cape to the British. Since then:

The tree has witnessed around 500 years of history, and it was not always a place of peace. Portuguese explorer Dom Francisco de Almeida and his men are believed to have met their end here, at the hands of local Khoikhoi seeking revenge for the attempted kidnapping of one of their children. Slaves were sold under the tree, and convicts were sometimes hung from its branches.

Though the tree stands in the midst of dilapidated industrial housing; at the time of the treaty it would have overlooked the sea, where ships carrying valuable cargo could be seen entering the harbour on a regular basis. Those present at the signing of this treaty would have had all the reminder they needed of the value of controlling the Cape.

It is one of four Milkwood trees – which live to be over 1 000 years old – in South Africa that has been declared a national monument.

The Ghost Table

Where: Kronendal Estate, Hout Bay
What is it: At the Kitima Restaurant, a table for two is reserved every night – although “staff would be rather shocked if the couple it is reserved for actually turned up” because, well, they are ghosts who continue to haunt the estate long after their affair reached its end in 1840:

According to the legend, the daughter of the Dutch colonel who owned the estate fell in love with a British soldier, but her father forbade the union. The boy took his own life out of despair, hanging himself from a tree in Oak Avenue, and the daughter died of a broken heart soon after.

Yup, a real-life Romeo and Juliet story.

Since then, sightings and occurrences have been reported, from pots flying off walls, lights dimming of their own accord, and strange apparitions appearing at the top of darkened stairways.

And there’s nothing else you can do but embrace the legend.

The Wood’s Cycad 

Where: Kirstenbosch Gardens, Newlands
What is it: It’s considered the loneliest plant in the world and is a “species of tree that predates the dinosaurs but is now extinct in the wild”. However, it is unable to reproduce because there are no female specimens:

The specimen currently residing in Kirstenbosch Gardens is an offshoot of the original tree, which was discovered by John Medley Wood in 1895. The clump of four trunks (all male) growing in the oNgoye Forest of Kwazulu Natal were all that remained of a plant species that had survived five ice ages.

Fortunately, the Wood’s cycad (named for its discoverer) responds well to cultivation, so although it is unable to produce naturally without a female specimen, various offshoots have been collected and planted in gardens around the world, including this one at Kirstenbosch.

In the meantime, researchers are still holding out hope that a female tree will one day be discovered somewhere in the world- but until then, go give it a hug.

Those above are just a few of those secrets, and The Inside Guide has a whole lot more for you right here.

Any secrets you think they are forgetting?

[source:insideguide]

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