The Victorian Rotunda, a landmark in Camps Bay, is a beautiful, geometrical domed building, was the epitome of high society in Cape Town at the turn of the century when it was built as part of a hotel and functioned as an events venue.
The Rotunda began life as a concert hall, with a pavilion that also functioned as a ballroom, a theatre and exhibition hall all rolled into one.
The Rotunda, as with the ubiquitous row of palm trees along the beachfront of Camps Bay, was part of the then mayor, James Riddell Farquhar’s, plan to turn Camps Bay into what he termed a ‘little Brighton’ - a holiday resort to resemble the seaside resort in the south east of England.
By the 1950s the building had languished and it was set to make way for a seven-storey block of flats when residents of Camps Bay protested, demanding that the beautiful example of Florentine architecture remain, and that a new building not obstruct their view of the ocean.
Reacting to the outcry the City Council rezoned the Rotunda, saving the original building, which was then incorporated into The Bay Hotel.