From the time of the first recorded discovery of the Cape, seafarers looked forward to the sight of majestic Table Mountain, this unmistakable beacon of promised hospitality along one of the busiest arteries of world commerce. However, the sudden knowledge that the Cape existed was not immediately followed by settlement.Bartholomeus Dias


In 1487, the Portuguese sailor Bartholomeus Dias set out to find a sea route to the East. Sailing along the west coast of Africa, his ships encountered a ferocious storm, which drove them out to sea and away from the coast. Once the storm had passed they resumed their journey in an easterly direction, expecting to reach the coast, their guideline, again soon. After a number of days’ sailing without any sign of land, they changed direction and headed north, eventually landing at the mouth of the Gouritz River on the east coast of Africa on 3 February 1488. Dias and his crew were the first Europeans on record to round the Cape, albeit unwittingly.

Antonio de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it ‘Table Mountain’. The great cross that the Portuguese navigator carved in the rock of Lion’s Head is still traceable.

It is widely believed that it was Dias who named the peninsula Cabo Tormentosa (Cape of Storms). This name was later changed to Cabo da Boa Esperanca (Cape of Good Hope) to signify that the rounding of the Cape brought hope that a sea route to the East was possible. Fully ten years later, Vasco Da Gama completed the sea route from Portugal around the Cape to India, thus finally opening up the trade route between Europe and the East.

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