1. A first for Africa Tobogganing at Cool Runnings
Have you ever watched the movie Cool Runnings? Then you know all about toboggans a.k.a. Bobsleds. In June 2007 Cape Town became the first city in the whole of Africa to boast a Toboggan Run. It is aptly called Cool Runnings and is located in Bellville, a suburb just outside of Cape Town.
2. Bellville a place for books
Almost since its inception, Bellville Public Library has been the busiest library in the Western Cape, at its peak issuing over a million items a year! The very first library in Bellville was started in 1918 in Durban Road, on the banks of the Elsieskraal River. A free public library service came to Bellville in 1964 located on what is now Kruskal Laan, and moved in 1989 to its current location, on Carl van Aswegen Street, above Elizabeth Park and once more on the banks of the river.
3. Home to two of the greenest public buildings in the country.
Just this year, the head office of City of Cape Town's Electricity Service, which is located in Bellville, became the first municipal building to be recognised for adhering to best practice design, contrsuction and management in terms of resource efficiency. This has earned it a four-star green energy rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
Also in 2015, the Karl Bremner Office Block, which is will soon be home to the Provincial Department of Health based in Bellville, was the first building in Africa to achieve a socio-economic impact certification, according to the GBCSA's recently developed set of critieria for rating buildings that contribute to the socio-economic sustainability of the country, including factors such as employment creation, skills development and community benefit.
4. One of the most valuable corporate art collections is housed in Bellville.
The Sanlam Art Collection, established in 1965, is one of South Africa's finest collections of South African Art. With holdings of more than 2000 items by some of South Africa's most valued and emerging artists the collection provides a representative overview of South African art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. Sanlam continues to acquire works by South African artists to broaden the representative character of the collection. A selection from the collection is on exhibition in the Sanlam Art Gallery located in the Sanlam Head Office in Bellville. With only 2% of the collection on display at any time the exhibition is changed on a bimonthly basis.
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 to 16:30
Tel: 021 947 3359 / 021 947 3165
Entry is free
5. Tygerberg used to be home to the only zoo in the Western Cape.
Tygerberg Zoo was established in 1979 and closed down 33 years later in 2012. At the height of its popularity the Zoo had 61 mammal species and 160 bird species.
6. One of Cape Town's two world-first transplants was performed in Bellville, last year!
The University of Stellenbosch's faculty of medicine and health sciences, based at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, reported the world's first successful transplant of a human penis, which took place on 11 December 2014. The operation was led by SU's Division of Urology head Prof Andre van der Merwe, and lasted nine-hours long.
7. Bellville Rock City
Bellville is the birthplace of the alternative Afrikaans music scene, where arguably the best known Afrikaans rock band of the time, Fokofpolisiekar, was formed in 2003. The band was formed initially to shock the conservative religious Afrikaans community, and it did so to such an extent that the bands leader Francois changed his surname to Van Coke as his minister father was receiving complaints about his son from the church-going community. Francois van Coke has recently moved back to Bellville.
8. Bellville is the Cape's home to the National Arts Association
The home of the South African National Association of Visual Art in the Western Cape is in Bellville, and is called the Arts Association of Bellville, or art.b as it is more familiarly known. The art.b gallery has nurtured and supported some of the most well-established artists in Cape Town, including ceramicists John Bauer and Hennie Meyer.
9. It has an authentic cosmopolitan flavour
Bellville and the Voortrekker Road corridor is arguably one of the most diverse communities in the Cape Town metropolitan, and is reminiscent of the great African cities, such as Nairobi and Johannesburg. Because of this, it presents a unique culinary experience, showcasing amongst others, Congolese, Indian, Pakistani and Ethiopian restaurants.
10. Bellville is not just a concrete city within a city.
This northern suburb boasts three separate biodiversity areas that provide opportunities for all Capetonians to experience the unique fauna and flora of the Western Cape. The largest of these is Tygerberg Nature Reserve which is 309 hectares in size, and has 562 different plant species. Of these, 23 are threatened, eight are endemic to Cape Town, and three endemic to Tygerberg itself. The University of the Western Cape's nature reserve is 30 hectares in size, and a smaller biodiversity area can be found in Jack Muller Park which has its very own resident owl and tortoises.