Table Mountain: The history of a timeless icon

Table Mountain: The history of a timeless icon

image Lower station under construction (1926 to 1928)

Table Mountain – the mother who keeps the city safely within her grasp – is a timeless icon, with a rich history for locals, tourists and celebrities alike. Its picturesque views, combined with its exquisite fauna and flora, make her a spectacle to behold. Let us lead you through a timeline of this natural wonder.


In 1790, Lady Anne Barnard became the first Capetonian woman to reach the summit. The only way to do this at the time was on foot. Apart from reaching the summit, she was also an author and an accomplished artist.

Cape Town has paid tribute to her in a number of ways: a room at the Castle of Good Hope is called “Lady Anne Barnard’s Ballroom”; there is the well-known road, “Lady Anne Avenue”, in Claremont; and her country house now forms part of the lavish Vineyard Hotel, according to


During the late 1870s, it was suggested that a rack railway be built in order for citizens to enjoy the splendour that is Table Mountain. However, the implementation of this had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the First Anglo-Boer War, which began in 1880.


In 1912, proposals and work began on implementing the cableway.


Seventeen years later, on October 4, 1929 the official opening of the cableway took place.

image Official opening ceremony of the cableway on October 4, 1929

21st century

Since the opening, 20-million people have taken the journey up the mountain and been awestruck by the beauty that greets them at the top. Passengers have included celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Sting and the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

image The first cable car: Early beginnings and false starts (1929)


The 20-millionth visitor arrived on March 25, 2010, bought his ticket and, before he knew it, Table Mountain Cableway CEO Sabine Lehmann welcomed him. Columbian filmmaker Federico Velasquez was lucky number 20-million, and all he could say was that he was ready to get to the top of that mountain!


Table Mountain is in the running to become one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The tabletop is in competition with other iconic natural sites, but with your help in voting in the critical last round, we can give Table Mountain its well-deserved place in history. We stand by the motto, “If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it.”

Show the world how wondrous Table Mountain really is – vote for her in the New7Wonders of Nature contest today.

Local celebrities – including our rugby heroes, the Springboks – have gladly agreed to be ambassadors for the campaign. One of the most popular is WWE superstar Justin Gabriel, who is a Mother City native.

The New7Wonders will be announced in Zurich, Switzerland, on November 11.

image The fourth cable car: High tech, world class, and views all round (1997)

Vote for Table Mountain online at Vote for Table Mountain or via SMS as often as possible. SMS “Table” to 34874 (each SMS costs R2).

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