Observatory Deals, Specials & Catalogues
Observatory is a prominent suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, and is important to the city both as a historical area as well as for its modern mixture of cultures and age groups.
The Observatory area is known for its relatively affordable living costs, geared towards a wide spectrum of the population. It is largely for this reason that it has become the area of choice for many students and young professionals, a large proportion of whom study at the University of Cape Town, located nearby. As one of Cape Town’s older suburbs, Observatory is also home to a number of heritage sites and other locations of historical interest. The suburb takes its name (often shortened to ‘Obs’) from what is now the South African Astronomical Observatory headquarters situated in the area.
The history of the Observatory area can be traced back to the mid-seventeenth century. In the year 1657, tracts of land along the Liesbeeck River (within the region that would become Observatory) were granted to fourteen free burghers by the Dutch East India Company. Jan van Riebeeck, the governor of the Cape during this time, ordered that a fort be built in the area to protect the farmers against encroaching Hottentots (today referred to as the Khoikhoi people). This fort came to be known as Fort Koornhoop, and the land surrounding it was for a time called the Koornhoop Colony.
The following centuries saw Cape Town develop into a thriving city, and the land that would become Observatory quickly became a recognised part of the city itself. The area acquired its name when work began on the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, in 1820. The building, designed by famed architect Sir Herbert Baker, was completed in 1897, and still houses the McClean Telescope. Today, it serves as the headquarters for the South African Astronomical Observatory headquarters.
During the apartheid years, Observatory was one of the few ‘grey’ suburbs, where people of all races were permitted to live in the same area. This heritage laid the foundations for Observatory’s current reputation as a progressive and open community, representative of many different cultures and population groups.
Observatory is located close to the center of Cape Town, on the north-facing slopes of Devil’s Peak, which extends downward towards the banks of the Liesbeeck River. It is bordered by the suburb of Mowbray to the south, and by Salt River to the northwest.
Observatory is home to a number of notable landmarks, the most obvious of which is the South African Astronomical Observatory headquarters itself. Groote Schuur Hospital, one of South Africa’s most prominent healthcare centers, is also situated in the area. Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, a Victorian heritage building, can also be found within Observatory.
Observatory is home to around 9207 people, at a population density of approximately 3000 per square kilometer.
The majority of the local population is Black African, with English being the most commonly spoken first language in the area.