Greenmarket Square is the second oldest public site in Cape Town (the oldest is Grand Parade).
It was originally named Burgher Watch Square, which was later changed to Stadhuys Plein and then, in 1805, to Greenmarket Square.
It was created in 1696 when a Burgher Watch House, which housed the guards who patrolled at night to maintain law and order, was built.
In 1761 the Old Town House was built in its place and used as a meeting place for a municipal commission.
The Old Town House became the first Cape Town City Hall in 1840, when the city was granted its own municipal administration.
When the City Hall was moved from Greenmarket Square to the Grand Parade in 1905, the Old Town House was converted into an art gallery. Today it houses the Michaelis collection.
During the eighteenth century the square was the location for the well that was the town’s main water supply during summer when streams from Table Mountain dried up.
The square itself was originally used as a slave market and as a market for fruit and vegetables. It has also been used as a car park.
The cobble stones were laid on the square only in 1967. The stones came from Old Dock Road and Castle Street, and are all hand dressed granite.
Many of the buildings on the square are of historical relevance, including the Methodist church, built in 1871.