The Hidden Gem That is Roeland Street

The Mother’s City, Cape Town, is home to numerous historical sites and landmarks such as the breath-taking view of the Peninsula and the ever-magnificent Table Mountain. I could go on all day about the various sites and beauties that can be located in and around the city but that’s just one Google search away.

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The House of Parliament. Image courtesy of EWN

Cape Town’s notorious nightlife attraction Long Street is the most frequented night club spot in the city that both the locals (myself included) as well as thousands of foreigners flock to night by night. The city’s streets are popular for their constant aura of flamboyance with the aforementioned being the most notable, however it is another that is the so called unsung hero of the ‘Cape streets’.

Roeland Street is located on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of this vibrant and welcoming city. Just a few minutes away from the Central Business District (CBD) this long stretch of road is able to provide a really unique Cape Town experience with the house of Parliament being situated right at the foot of the road, almost as if it is the main entrance to The Mother’s City.

A simple walk of this street provides you with the different elements of everyday life with the sounds of cars on the busy road, children’s laughter at a nearby school and the calls of the infamous minibus taxis.

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Afternoon traffic on Roeland Street. Image taken by Kieryn Thompson on 26/02/16

Roeland Street essentially has everything ranging from the people all the way up to the House of Parliament. Petrol and fire stations, schools, grocery stores, gyms, car and motorbike dealerships, coffee shops, pubs and takeaways, the list go on and on.

This busy stretch of road is a vital part of the ‘Cape Town way’ as there are so many different cultures on display at any given moment. The working culture, exhibited by the constant flow of traffic going both in and out of Roeland Street as well as the men and women dressed in their suits and dresses or working apparel that can be seen during a day’s work. The culture of schooling is made quite apparent due to the fact that a high school as well as two tertiary education institutions can be seen on this long stretch of road.

It is not only a place of work and learning but a place of leisure too as a result of the numerous selections of pubs and social hangout zones that are accessible throughout the day and well into the evening; provided that you are of age.

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Viglietti Motors. Image courtesy of autoevolution.com

Apart from Parliament, one of the bigger attractions came in the form of a car dealership, ‘Viglietti Motors’ where some of the world’s most luxurious, expensive and beautiful Ferrari’s were for sale as well as on show. Funny enough, this eye-catching showroom was situated right next to the very individuals who are (in some cases) working towards owning one of these beautiful pieces of machinery. Situated right next the Ferrari dealership is a tertiary education institution by the name of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

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CPUT Roeland Street Building. Image courtesy of cput.ac.za

Yes, I used the past tense when referring to the car dealership as a result of the showroom being moved elsewhere which can be seen as a positive in the sense that there aren’t too many more distractions.

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An empty Viglietti Motors. Image taken by Kieryn Thompson on 26/02/16

As I mentioned previously, Roeland Street is home to two higher learning institutions in CPUT as well as City Varsity where students mix with both folk of the working world as well as their respective peers.

While on the topic of students and the aforementioned street it was only just a few months back that protesting students had clashed with police forces right on the doorsteps of Parliament as a result of the #FeesMustFall protests. A struggle that has yet to be resolved but the events are still very much alive in the memories of those who were on hand to this momentously historic incident.

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A local pub during the middle of the day; The Kimberley Hotel. Image taken by Kieryn Thompson 26/02/16

Perhaps the biggest dampener to a street consisting of such zest and character is that the most recent memory involves the inexplicable actions of police forces who had essentially assaulted unarmed students right at the front door of the House of Parliament.

In a sense, the common nature of Roeland Street is what makes it so fascinating. I, myself learned that as I took a stroll down this lively road. With everything casually ‘normal as it ought to be’ I found myself very short of words. However the further I diverged down the path of Roeland I came to realise just how important ordinary life is to such a simple, yet spectacular street.

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