The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, more commonly referred to as the Waterfront, is Cape Town's original Victorian harbour. The area was redeveloped in the 1990's and is now the most popular attraction on the cape peninsula. Located here is the city's main shopping area, with many fashionable restaurants and bars. It is from here that the ferry embarks to Robben Island. This is not just an upmarket tourist attraction, this is still a working harbour, with dry docks in which ships undergo repairs in sight of some of the most sought after apartments in the country.
Construction of the basins took place between 1860 and 1920, with the harbour being designed for the days of sail, and the early days of steam. The harbour fell into decline in the 1970's due to South Africa's increasing economic isolation, and the reopening of the Suez Canal, plus the shift towards containerisation. Nowadays the area still contains some outstanding heritage buildings which helps to retain some of the more charming aspects of the Victorian era.
In an area of the waterfront now known as Noble Square, stands four, larger than life bronze sculptures of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. The bronzes were created by Claudette Schreuders. A fifth sculpture by Noria Mabasa, representing Peace and Democracy, stands nearby.
A waterfront feature is the Victorian Clock Tower which was once a focal point of the old docks and has now become an equally important focal point in this modern waterfront development. The clock tower, originating from 1882, and restored in 1997, was once the office of the Port Captain. On the ground floor is a device that was designed to check tide levels, while on the floor above, is a room with mirrors that gave the Port Captain a view of the whole harbour.
Located in Market Square is a Visitors Centre, where information can be obtained not only on the Waterfront, but for the whole of Cape Town and the Western Cape. Information is available on accommodation and tours, plus the opportunity to purchase phone cards and gift vouchers, there is also a lost property office. Banking facilities and cash machines are available throughout the Waterfront, and there is a strong 24 hour security presence.
With over 80 places to eat and drink throughout the Waterfront, there is no lack of choice, these range from some excellent fine dining, to an assortment of takeaways and coffee shops. There is ample opportunity for al fresco eating throughout the summer, with most places having superb views over the harbour.