Choose your country and language:

Africa

  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Americas

  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Europe

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Back
Western Cape

You are only moments away

IIn the heart of Cape Town lie  the Company’s Garden  which boasts a large number of beautifully designed historic buildings, including the Houses of Parliament. Built in 1885, this inner sanctum of South African politics has seen its fair share of  important moments and people important to the history of our country. .

Strolling  through the lush Company’s Garden, you will see  the South African Library on your left and the beautiful  Houses of Parliament on your right.

The original building, complete with Corinthian porticos and a huge dome, was designed by Charles Freeman. The House of Assembly was the design of well-known architect, Sir Herbert Baker.

Did You Know?
WWhile Cape Town is South Africa’s legislative capital, the government’s administration is based in Pretoria

BBuilt in 1885, the Houses of Parliament have since been one of the most dramatic political arenas in the world, at times rivalling even the British House of Lords for its lively debates.

In 1890 Cecil John Rhodes was elected prime minister of the  Cape Colony and his government  occupied these halls of power for 5 years. In 1895 Rhodes, having backed the ill-fated Jameson Raid aimed at overthrowing President Paul Kruger’s gold-rich Transvaal, and was forced to resign his position.

The Houses of Parliament in  stood in  witness to debates concerning the South African Anglo-Boer War, World War I, World War II and the political changing  of the guard, from the United Party of General Jan Smuts to the National Party, whose brainchild was the loathed apartheid system.

The Houses of Parliament

IIn 1960, shortly before South Africa was declared a republic, the prime minister of Britain, Sir Harold MacMillan, made a speech in the South African Parliament that resounded around the world.

Dubbed the ‘Winds of Change speech’, it presaged Britain’s intent to free herself of her African colonies and ushered in a new era for the continent.

A scant 6 years later, there was high drama in the House of Assembly as a parliamentary messenger called Dimitri Tsafendas stabbed to death 1 of the grand masters of apartheid, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa at the time.

SSome of the most stirring events in the Houses of Parliament during the apartheid era took place when opposition party members stood up to hold the Nationalist government to account for the disastrous effects of apartheid.

In 1994, the Houses of Parliament were witness to yet another phase for South Africa when Nelson Mandela stood up as the president after the country’s 1st democratic elections.

PPolitics aside, some of the main features enjoyed by visitors to the Houses of Parliament today are the 4000-odd collected artworks on display.

They embrace a wide range of creativity throughout the generations that have passed, and include a busy landscape painting by the jaunty French explorer Francois le Vaillant, pieces of satire by Daniel Boonzaier, a portrait of General Smuts by Sir William Orpen and an enormous Keiskamma Tapestry woven by the women of the village of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape.

How to get here
Who to contact
Best time to visit
Around the area
Tours to do
Get around
What will it cost
Length of stay
What to pack
Where to stay
Best buys

Related Articles

Footsteps to Freedom

Vibrant culture
Footsteps to Freedom

Footsteps to Freedom will take you on a walking tour of all the great struggle sites in Cape Town.

St Mary’s Cathedral - St Mary’s Cathedral: Once a faithful bulwark against the forces of apartheid

Vibrant culture
St Mary’s Cathedral - St Mary’s Cathedral: Once a faithful bulwark against the forces of apartheid

St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg is significant in taking a firm stand against apartheid.

Groote Schuur Building - Explore the house where South Africa’s freedom was born

Vibrant culture
Groote Schuur Building - Explore the house where South Africa’s freedom was born

The old official residence of the president of South Africa, Groote Schuur, is the very place where the country’s bright, new future first came into being.

Bishopscourt - Bishopscourt is a slice of heaven

Vibrant culture
Bishopscourt - Bishopscourt is a slice of heaven

Bishopscourt is a spellbinding residential suburb that boasts a rich history, lush valleys, oak-lined trees and pristine homes.

Mandela Rhodes Building - Grand old lady in the heart of Cape Town City.

Vibrant culture
Mandela Rhodes Building - Grand old lady in the heart of Cape Town City.

The Mandela Rhodes Building was built in 1903 and now houses the headquarters for the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

Explore St George's Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in southern Africa (1)

Vibrant culture
Explore St George's Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in southern Africa (1)

At St George's Cathedral, the church kept its doors open to people of all races throughout the apartheid era.

Cape Town City Hall – A grand old building. (1)

Vibrant culture
Cape Town City Hall – A grand old building. (1)

Cape Town City Hall – A grand old building.

Houses of Parliament –The heart of Cape Town (2)

Vibrant culture
Houses of Parliament –The heart of Cape Town (2)

Houses of Parliament –The heart of Cape Town

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (Zeitz MOCAA)

Vibrant culture
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (Zeitz MOCAA)

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (Zeitz MOCAA)

Oudtshoorn - The capital of the Klein Karoo

Vibrant culture
Oudtshoorn - The capital of the Klein Karoo

Inland from the Cape’s famous Garden Route, over breathtakingly beautiful mountain passes, magnificent red rocks and the wide open spaces of the Klein Karoo, you’ll find Oudtshoorn – once known internationally as the ostrich capital of the world

From the roots of all humanity to a human story that inspired the world

Vibrant culture
From the roots of all humanity to a human story that inspired the world

While South Africa embodies our most ancient roots, we have evolved into an amazing mix of modern cultures.

Be humbled by the heroes of Robben Island

Vibrant culture
Be humbled by the heroes of Robben Island

As you make your way through the corridors of Robben Island, you get transported to a time in South African history where the country reached a turning point.

South Africa and its jazz scene

Vibrant culture
South Africa and its jazz scene

Jazz fans from around the world appreciate the skill and vibrant talent of South African jazz musicians.

District Six Museum -Decades of memories

Vibrant culture
District Six Museum -Decades of memories

This museum in Cape Town seeks to reconnect with the spirit of the community and provide a different interpretation of the past.

Cape Town's vibrant Bo-Kaap and its museum

Vibrant culture
Cape Town's vibrant Bo-Kaap and its museum

Colourful Bo-Kaap has a fascinating history and unique culture just begging to be explored.

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2018 South African Tourism
| Terms and conditions | Disclaimer | Privacy policy