Table Mountain is one of the most iconic mountains in the world, and anybody who visits Cape Town will be mesmerized by its presence. You may have taken the aerial cableway to the top on a visit or even hiked it, but how much do you really know about it? Capetonians might know a thing or two because they live there, but for everybody else, here are 9 things you might not know about Table Mountain.
It’s getting larger
Table Mountain is still rising above the sea due to the shift of the earth’s plates below. Unlike other mountains that have gotten lower due to plate tectonics, Table Mountain has remained steady due to being made primarily out of granite.
It’s also extremely old
Table Mountain is one of the oldest outcrops of mountains in the world. At over 300 million years old, it’s longer in the tooth than the Rocky Mountains, the Andes, and even the mighty Himalayas. So next time you’re there, imagine all of the creatures that have roamed the area over millions of years.
It was originally named Hoerikwaggo
Before European settlers came, the San people in the area named the mountain Hoerikwaggo, meaning mountain of the sea. Today, you can still hike up the Hoerikwaggo Trail which bears homage to the name.
The highest point is Maclear’s Beacon
At 1,087m, the highest point was built by the astronomer and Irish-born South African Sir Thomas Maclear in 1865. Maclear wanted to use it to help measure the curvature of the earth and was previously named as Her Majesty’s Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope in 1833.
There’s love in the air
Love seems to be in the air at over 1,000 meters high on top of the mountain. At least two couples get married on the mountain each month! There are six venues on the top of the mountain, each with a different incredible view.
It can be spotted from 150 km away
On clear days, ships can see Table Mountain from 150km away, and it has long been used for navigational purposes when coming around the tip of Africa. However, the weather around the mountain is notorious for fog, and there have also been hundreds of shipwrecks over the centuries in the area.
The cableway has been running since 1929
The mountain’s famous aerial cableway is coming up on almost a century of use and was proposed to be built all the way back in the 1870s, before being halted by the Anglo-Boer War. It has received several updates over the years, including the rotating floor which gives passengers a panoramic view.
Celebrities love it
Oodles of famous celebrities have been visiting the mountain all the way back to Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1947. Other famous celebs that have graced the site include Oprah, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan.
It has a constellation named after it
If you’re reminiscing about Table Mountain, you can just look up to the sky at the southern constellation, Mensa. The constellation was named after the mountain in 1754 by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lecaille. If you’re thinking “why Mensa,” the original name was Mons Mensae, Latin for “the table mountain.”
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This article was originally published on August 13, 2015.