Visit: Castle of Good Hope, Corner of Buitenkant and Strand streets, Cape Town Central 8001 South Africa
Venture through the Castle of Good Hope observing the many art and photography exhibitions that depict the historic start of the city. The Castle Military Museum is also available, as well as the William Fehr Collection, which boasts an impressive collection of art, antique Cape furniture and other historic collectables. Make use of the castle’s daily tours (11:00, 12:00 and 14:00), showcasing South Africa’s shared heritage and military history. Watch the performing of the Key Ceremony, replicating the ceremonial unlocking of the signal canon which is then fired to the delight of onlookers. Don’t miss an adventurous tour of the underground tunnels that once followed the canals and rivers that brought fresh water to the city.
The castle was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company. It served as a stop-over for ships sailing the Spice Route. The castle forms a pentagonal shape, and the five bastions of the star are the Leerdam to the west, and clockwise from it the Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje. The original fortress was geared with cells which were used during the Second Boer War from 1899-1902, when part of the castle was also used as a prison. Apart from the military function, it has also had luxurious living quarters, shops, workshops and even a small church and bakery. The Castle of Good Hope was declared a national monument in 1936 and is considered the oldest colonial building in South Africa.
Did you know
The Castle of Good Hope boasts the oldest bell in South Africa. The 300kg bell was imported from Amsterdam is situated over the main entrance. It was used to announce time, warn citizens of danger and call together residents or soldiers for important announcements. The bell could be heard a as much as 10km away!
Advice for visitors
You can wander around the castle on your own, but it is a lot more informative to join one of the guided tours of the dungeon, torture chamber, ramparts and armouries. The William Fehr Collection is a must-see, and those interested in conservation should check out John Thomas Baine’s The Greatest Hunt in Africa, which celebrates a ‘hunt’ in honour of Prince Alfred where nearly 30,000 animals were driven together and slaughtered. Take a break at the small restaurant on the patio outside and enjoy the freshly brewed coffee.