Cape Town is affectionately known as The Mother City and is renowned for its scenic beauty. Roeland Street is home to a car dealership, a book store, a number of eateries, art supply stores, (graphic) studios and so many more treasures.

Roeland street
Roeland Street Image by ShowMe Cape Town

The Book Lounge in Roeland Street is a superb place to go to, they have books and coffee.What more could you ask for? There’s a basement where you can buy an amazing cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake . Book launches, poetry and reading sessions are held at this book lounge. Parliament being a stone’s throw away from campus, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), is definitely a plus! There is an amazing dynamic in this street, from high school students (Harold Cressy High School) to varsity students from CPUT and City Varsity. Roeland Street has become synonymous with creativity because of places like Art Sauce and Orms. A leisurely stroll will take you to The Fugard Theatre, named after Athol Fugard, one of South Africa’s most compelling and noteworthy playwright in Caledon Street (off Buitenkant Street).

An iconic building is The Western Cape Provincial Archives and Record Service, commonly known as The Archives, at 72 Roeland Street in Cape Town. This place is home to a number of government documents dating back to 1652 that covers various reigns of the Cape and includes maps and photographs that date back to more than three centuries ago. The staff at The Archives are very friendly and always eager to offer assistance. Head of the Client Services Department, Erika le Roux says:

“The Archives is open to the public, everyone is welcome. What sets us apart from libraries is that we have primary sources that are transferred from government documents or non-public records donated by public or private institutions”.

Archives girl inside
The Western Cape Provincial Archives and Record Service

This unassuming building is home to stunning flowers, big and beautiful trees and has an atmosphere about it that puts you in a different head space. It’s so busy outside of The Archives but once you enter the grounds it feels as though you’re in another world where time stands still and there are no pressures. Sitting for a few minutes is not recommended because you will lose track of time in this tranquil place.

Archives great view (2)
Some of the great views that The Archives has to offer

The Archives is a great place for people to do their research and grab a quick bite to eat before rejoining the hustle and bustle of town life. When I went there, I saw thirty students from Stellenbosch  University (SU) who were doing Historical Research for their assignments and theses. A few of them went to some of the eateries In Roeland Street to grab lunch but decided to eat it at The Archives because it has “an awesome vibe”. One student from SU, Ashrick Pietersen (23) is an intern for South African History Online and enjoys his lunch at The Archives with fellow SU student, Theo Galloway (25) who’s doing his research at The Archives.

Archives guys (3)
Ashrick Pietersen (23) & Theo Galloway (25) enjoy their lunch after doing some research at The Archives.

The Archives is not just a building, it’s s place that represents my freedom. I don’t have to worry about assignments, due dates, tests or being on time. I can just exist without anybody expecting anything from me. You’ll be surprised as to some of the interesting characters you meet here and the amazing stories they have to tell. Whenever I go to The Archives (which is often) I always sit on this bench (pictured below). The bench is under a veranda which provides me with much-needed relief from the sun and it’s a great place to see how people act when they are alone, compared to when someone comes to join them.

Archives bench 2
My favourite place to sit in The Archives

Roeland Street and the streets surrounding it offers locals and visitors a cultural experience. I’ve only named a few places that I’ve visited, but there is so much more to discover. This street sounds insignificant when compared to Long Street, but it should not be compared. In Long Street, the pavements are filled with restaurants and very little room for walking, there are a number of bars, nightclubs and clothing stores. Long Street leaves me feeling flustered and claustrophobic, while the Archives in Roeland Street makes me feel liberated.

Archives overall view (2)
Long Street and Roeland Street? There is no comparison … A side view of the iconic Archives building
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20 thoughts on “The Archives: Liberation Street

  1. I’m sold! My next trip will be to the continent half way around the world, to take in all the beauty it has to offer! From this blog along, I’m sure it won’t disappoint!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I so wish I could be there! Today’s coffee houses–at least where I live–are nothing like the ones of my youth. Today’s are soulless, and poetry readings unheard of. So glad you have a haven like that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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