Port Elizabeth is the largest city in the Eastern Cape Province, it is known as the 'Friendly City'.
Nelson Mandela Bay bears the rich legacy of an area which saw the first meetings of Khoisan, British, Dutch, German and Xhosa people. As the landing place of the 1820 Settlers, it boasts some of the finest architectural attractions in South Africa. The Bay offers a wealth of treasures in the for of historical attractions, museums an places of interest, which are guaranteed to provide a journey of discovery through its dicerse history and culture.
Nelson Mandela Bay's rich cultural heritage guarantees history lovers a unique insight into the Eastern Cape’s and the Metropole’s diverse and remarkable past.
The nomadic San were the earliest group of indigenous people known to live in the Eastern Cape. The Khoi displaced the San into the mountains and semi-desert, early in the second millennium AD. The forefathers of the Xhosa speaking people arrived on the banks of the Kei River in about 800AD.
During his epic voyage of discovery searching for a sea route to the East, the Portuguese, Bartolomeu Dias, rounded the “Cabo da Roca” in February 1488 and entered “Baia da Roca” – Cape and Bay of the Rock (now Cape Recife and Algoa Bay). Dias also gave the name “Ilheus Chaos” (Flat Islands) to the Bird Islands. In 1497, Vasco da Gama, successor to Dias, entered Algoa Bay and noted the Bird Islands on his voyage to India. His charts gave Cape Recife it’s name – “Cabo do Arricife” – Cape of the Reef. The "Bay" was later named "Baia de Lagoa", by navigator and cartographer Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo in 1576, which referred to the lagoon situated at the mouth of the Baakens River.
By the middle of the 18th century, the number of ships passing the “Bay” had increased and occasionally survivors of the shipwrecks were given hospitality by Dutch Trekboers (farmers) who had trekked from the Cape in search of good farmland. At the end of 1799 the English, fearing that the French would render military assistance to the Graaff Reinet rebels, decided to construct Fort Frederick, overlooking the mouth of the Baakens River as a permanent military post.
4 000 British Settlers arrived by sea in 1820, to become the first permanent British residents in the Albany District. On 6 June 1820, Sir Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, named the new sea port in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth.