Doubtless there were once many streets, squares, and places named after António de Oliveira Salazar, Portugal’s longtime dictator — the Ponte Salazar being the one that springs immediately to mind. That bridge, like most other Salazarian toponyms in the Lusosphere, was renamed after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, even though the dictator remains a reasonably popular figure (a poll for the RTP television programme The Greatest Portuguese he came out top with twice as many votes as the runner-up).
After Cape Town’s foreshore was reclaimed from the sea following the Second World War, the government which developed the new district chose streetnames based on a variety of themes. Some, rather self-centredly, were named after government ministers — hence Hertzog Boulevard and D. F. Malan-straat. Others recalled the past, such as the Foreshore’s central avenue, Heerengracht, which summoned thoughts of the Amsterdam canal of the same name and had historical resonance as the former name of Adderley Street which it continued.
But Portgual’s important contribution to the exploration of southern Africa was recognised by naming streets after Vasco da Gama and Bartholomeu Dias. The public square that connected these two streets, located behind the headquarters of Afrikaans media chain Naspers was named the Salazar-plein, or Salazar Square, after the long-serving Portuguese prime minister.
The square, unlike most things named after Prof. Salazar, retains its name, but the inheritors of the “Greatest Portuguese” might want to demand their money back: while suitably arboriferous, the space is little more than a glorified car park surrounded by the dull, modernist office buildings typical of the Foreshore.
Coming soon: More on a rather controversial Cape Town street name