The V&A Waterfront is one of Africa’s most popular destinations, with more than 24 million visitors each year – more than even the Pyramids of Giza! But, just a few decades ago, South Africa’s oldest working harbour was an uninviting, industrial port nicknamed the ‘Tavern of the Seas’ by local sailors that held little attraction for visitors, and was largely removed from the daily lives of Capetonians.
How did the V&A Waterfront transform into one of the continent’s most visited destinations? How were the strong bonds between the city and its port broken? And how has the V&A Waterfront worked to rebuild them, creating new ways for everyone to rediscover Cape Town’s connection with the sea?
Seeking to answer some of visitors’ most frequently asked questions, and educate visitors on the V&A Waterfront’s extensive heritage, the V&A Waterfront has launched a free audio walking tour covering some of its best-known attractions that is sure to delight history buffs, trivia hours, and every other visitor too!
“The heritage of the V&A Waterfront is woven into the very fabric of the property, with most buildings and structures around us having important historical significance. This history – which is an integral part of the history of Cape Town – can often be forgotten in the rush of modern life. We worked hard to develop a meaningful, educational, interesting audio tour for our visitors to ensure that anyone interested in this history, can explore it at their leisure,” said David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront.
The newly launched audio walking tour will provide answers to questions by drawing visitors’ attention to unusual objects such as shipping containers and unfinished highways. Visitors can also learn about the humble beginnings of the modern V&A Waterfront, starting in 1989 with Ferryman’s Tavern, and be introduced to some of the characters who’ve helped shape the property’s evolution.
Going on the tour is incredibly simple: visitors should download the VoiceMap app (available for download on Android and iOS), search for and download the ‘Reinventing the Tavern of the Seas’ tour plug in their earphones, and tap ‘start’! The tour begins at the V&A Information Centre (close to the Amphitheatre and Cape Wheel) and ends at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in the Silo District.
The tour itself uses a GPS connection to ensure that your audio always matches where you are on the property – no matter your walking pace. If anyone veers a little too far off course, the GPS location will ensure the audio reminds them to return to the tour route. Additionally, the use of GPS means that, once the app and tour are downloaded, visitors can switch off their mobile data and do not need an active internet connection for the tour.
So, whether this is someone’s first visit to the V&A Waterfront or their hundred-and-first visit, every tour-goer will have their eyes opened to hidden traces of the past, the complex dance of daily operations at the V&A Waterfront, and the exciting opportunities for the property’s future.