Souvenirs from South Africa, Cape Town
The Table Mountain is one of the splendid natural landmarks of South Africa offering breathtaking views to the city of Cape Town; it has become one of the country’s symbols and a huge tourist attraction due to its natural beauty and unique hiking and transportation facilities. Included in the Table Mountain National Park, the Mountain’s most spectacular feature is its breathtaking plateau surrounded by splendid cliffs and peaks. The Devil’s Peak and the Lion’s Head are marking the mountains’ impressive edges which form a dramatic scenery going down to Cape Town. Visitors can now enjoy this magnificent landscape in a place of majestic elegance and constant challenges. A resin fridge magnet souvenir depicts this iconic symbol and it’s available now online.
The Table Mountain, South Africa’s Plateau
The Table Mountain represents the Northern part of the spine of mountains which further form the Cape Peninsula and it also neighbors the Cape Point and Back Table known as the Twelve Apostles. The Mountain resembles a magnificent amphitheatre with Maclear's Beacon, a rock structure erected in the 19th century at 1,000 meters above the sea level. The Gorge of Platteklip separates the cliffs of the plateau and also marks the historical route followed by António de Saldanha in its first recorded climbing from the 16th century. At the flat-shaped top, a special phenomenon of cloud forming (the ‘table cloth’) occurs when the warm winds from the South-East meet the cool air and condense. Local legends claim the Devil and the pirate Van Hunks are in a smoking competition whenever the cloud table cloth is visible.
The Splendid Mountains of the Khoikhoi
The mountain has been populated since pre-historic times; the Khoikhoi tribe with their cattle and sheep herds came all the way down from the Cape Peninsula and established here up until the first European travelers reached the place. The Portuguese António de Saldanha was the first European to sail to the Table Bay and the first one to climb the Table Mountains which he named Taboa do Cabo and marked with a cross in the Lion’s Head. At the end of the 18th century, during the English domination, Sir James Craig commissioned the construction of three blockhouses: one for the King (still intact today), one for the Duke of York and the last one for the Prince of Wales. Interestingly, the upper regions of the mountains are made of quartzitic sandstone, a special type of rock highly resistant to erosive processes; below it, a rock layer of shale protects a thick layer of phyllites, hornfelses and traces of Cape Granite.
A Railway to the Top of the Mountain
By the end of the 19th century, a local Cape Town initiative suggested the construction of a railway to transport visitors to the top of the mountains. The project was interrupted by the Anglo-Boer conflict but by the beginning of the First World War, the City Council finally voted for the engineer H.M. Peter’s plan and despite huge costs, a railway started to be constructed. The works were interrupted but resumed after the First World War with the efforts of Norwegian engineer Trygve Stromsoe who pleaded for a cableway. Funded by local businessmen, the railway was officially opened in 1929. Around 1900, five different dams were built to provide water for Cape Town and a ropeway was used for the transportation of materials and people; the original steam engine can still be seen in the Waterworks Museum on the top of the mountains. Nowadays a modern system supplies the water to the city.