The Grand Parade is an iconic Cape Town space, the main public square in Cape town,
Located between what is today known as Lower Plein Street, Darling Street and Buitenkant Street in the Cape Town City centre, it is adjacent to the Castle of Good Hope and opposite the Cape Town City Hall. Originally named Wapen Plein ("Square of Arms") in 1652, it was the site of Jan van Riebeek’s original Fort de Goede Hoop. However when the fort was later demolished to be replaced by Castle of Good Hope, the grounds - now associated with the military barracks - became known as the Grand Parade and was long used by the garrison as a training ground. The Drill Hall was constructed on the one corner in 1884, to provide protection for the soldiers on parade during inclement weather.
Today the Grand Parade is predominantly used as a market and parking space for commuters.
The Grand Parade as a performance venue
Among its many early uses as a public space, the Parade saw public sales of slaves and the flogging of slaves, weekly auctions and a farmers' market in the 1800's, and military exercises. It was also used as a safe haven in the earthquake of 1809.
Today the [Grand Parade]] can still accommodate up to 250 000 standing people and over the course of its existence has therefore served as a venue for all kinds of public events, including the Coon Carnival, political gatherings and vast protest meetings, and numerous local and national celebratory events, such as the end of World War II, Nelson Mandela's first speech after leaving prison in 1990 and his internationally broadcast address to the nation in 1994, the FIFA Fan Fest which hosted the live screening of all the world cup matches, and so on.
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