Food markets may conjure up images of country farms and chickens clucking underfoot, but on Thursday afternoons the country comes to the city centre at Cape Town’s delightful Earth Fair Market on St George’s Mall.
At most hours of the day St George’s Mall – the pedestrian boulevard that runs almost the length of the centre of Cape Town – is abuzz with commuters and office workers. Pigeons flap underfoot and hawkers sell T-shirts and African artworks to tourists.
But come Thursday midday, the end of the mall closest to the St. George’s Cathedral and Company’s Garden is transformed into a vibrant food and produce market that draws locals and tourists alike.
Perhaps the closest thing to a European-style street market you’ll find in the city, stalls line the mall offering up wonderful baked goods, fresh vegetables, charcuterie, cheese and meats.
Along with plenty of great produce to take home, there are also stalls selling delicious street food: either enjoy it in the mall, or grab a take-away and wander into the scenic Company’s Garden.
The market runs from 11h00 -15h00 every Thursday in St George’s Mall.
St George’s Cathedral, which is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, is the oldest cathedral in southern Africa. It is known as the ‘People’s Cathedral’ for the political stance it took during apartheid.
St George’s Cathedral sits on a piece of land at the lower end of the Company Gardens on Wale Street in central Cape Town. The land was donated by the colonial government and consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta. On St George’s day – 23 April 1830 – the then governor of the Cape, Sir Lowry Cole, laid the foundation of the first church to occupy this site.
In 1901, the Duke of Cornwall and York – who went on to become King George V – laid the foundation stone of the current cathedral. The foundation stone was inscribed with the letters AMDG (Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam — to the Greater Glory of God). Although these letters are chiselled into every stone in the cathedral, the foundation stone is the only instance where you can actually see them. Designed by Sir Henry Baker, the architect who designed South Africa’s Union Buildings in Pretoria, the cruciform cathedral was only completed in 1936.
During the apartheid era, when racial segregation was enforced by the government, the cathedral was a common meeting place for anti-apartheid activists of all races. On 13 September 1989, Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize-winner and the first black archbishop in South Africa, led a massive protest march from the cathedral. The protest march, which was attended by 30 000 people from all of Cape Town’s race and cultural groups, went off peacefully.
Speaking of the march, Desmond Tutu said: “And so we came to the cathedral to pray, Muslim, Jew, Christian, black, white — our rainbow nation — and as we walked out into the streets of Cape Town it was exhilarating to be joined by thousands, swept along in the realisation of the dream that freedom is possible.”
The crypt at the cathedral has been transformed into a Memory and Witness Centre. It houses a well-illustrated exhibition that details the 1989 peace march.
Visit the cathedral on a quiet week day or attend Evensong on a Sunday evening. While you are there be sure to check out the magnificent stained glass windows — you’ll notice that in one image Christ is white and in another, black — and the calming labyrinth in the courtyard garden.