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Strolling around in South Africa’s oldest colonial building
Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town
It’s big yet unprepossessing, till you’re standing in front of it: the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town’s city centre. Just a few steps away from the central station and the modern shopping malls, you can immerse yourself in the time of the 17th to 19th century.
The Castle of Good Hope was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Back then located directly at the Atlantic, the castle provided shelter for all Europeans who settled at the Cape. The fortress was the centre of civilian, political and military life. Today the Castle of Good Hope is seat of the military in the Cape and hosts three museums, including: Castle Military Museum, Iziko Hope Gallery (with changing exhibitions at Secunde’s House) and William Fehr Collection, in which rooms are historically decorated with furniture, paintings and accessories of the 17th to 19th century.
We enter the castle shortly before 10 in the morning, just in time since a key ceremony is happening. A key delivery (to open the front door) and the sounding of a bell are simulated; after that a mini cannon (the Signal Cannon) is fired…tinnitus included if you don’t hold your ears in time.
At 11am the first tour of the day takes place and to waste time we’re walking atop the battlement. From here you have a phenomenal 360 degree view over Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head, the towers of the city centre and the other districts in the east. We’re walking to each five corners of the radial castle and returning to the patio. The tour lasts just about 30 minutes and leads us among others to Bakhuys & Dolphin Pool and the torture chamber of the castle.
Afterwards there is enough time to stroll around, take photos or visit one of the museums. The exhibitions are not too big and together with the interesting tour you can get a good idea about life at the Cape 300 years ago. Whoever needs refreshment or rest can sit down in the restaurant or at one of the benches in the patio. The Castle of Good Hope is not just for history lovers or military fans but also for families, tourists and locals a perfect excursion – just a Cape Town must!
by Anne Wallrabe
Castle of Good Hope
Corner Darling and Buitenkant Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 787 1260
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 9am - 4pm (last admission 3:30pm); daily tours: 11am, 12pm und 2pm; Key ceremony and firing of signal cannon: Monday to Friday 10am - 12 pm (firings Saturdays at 11am and 12pm)
Prices: adults R28; children (5-16 years) & students R12
Check out what else you need to tick off on our Cape Town bucket list.