Observatory or “Obz” as it is affectionately known, is a mostly student orientated suburb situated just outside of the city centre of Cape Town. A Quirky neighbourhood with mostly old Victorian laden streets and steeped in history offers more to locals and visitors alike than is first expected. Locals will favour thrift shopping and good bars, and some of the best second-hand records found around Cape Town. The proximity to the University of Cape Town and the eclectic mix of bars and thrift shops means there is always a student buzz around.
The history of Observatory is linked directly to its name. Although the original farms here were started during the Dutch era at the Cape around 1657, the name derives from the Royal Observatory which was built here in 1897 under British rule. This building still stands today and is the home of the South African Astronomical Society housing a museum for visitors. This Herbert Baker building is a must-see for any fans of one of South Africa’s most prominent architects during this time.
South Africa plays host to its very own version of the famous Burning Man festival which is held in the Karoo every year called Afrikaburn. Luckily for local residents, there is a one-day street festival held in Observatory in November of every year. The streets are lined with audacious steampunk vehicles and floats. There are interesting vendors selling unique odds and ends and the bars around town are busy till all hours. Streetopia is a fun and quirky event.
Obz has many places to visit, and a trip down the lower-main road is always a good start. This is the main street with bars and quirky shops.
A great past time of most visitors to Obz would be thrift shopping for clothes and old records. Starting with clothes, a solid stop is always going to be Never New and BangBang Vintage on Lower Main. Never New is known for always having more stock than anyone else, and BangBang Vintage is a little different with a range of traders inside all offering their own unique tastes. For records, a favourite spot is Revolution Records on Lower main, The guy behind the counter is always playing some interesting tunes and the range of music available is fantastic.