South Africa’s oldest surviving colonial building, the Castle of Good Hope was built by the Dutch East India Company or VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) between 1666 and 1679. It replaced a smaller, clay and timber fort that was erected by Jan van Riebeeck, the administrator of the Cape, to house the garrison and government offices of his maritime replenishment station. In 1678 the new Castle of Good Hope became the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape.
Today it is the seat of the military in Cape Town, and houses the Castle Military Museum, with its impressive sword collection, and the William Fehr Collection, which includes many paintings, decorative artefacts and period furniture of special relevance to the Cape.
The Castle’s location at Strand Street in the CBD may at first seem a little odd to those unfamiliar with our history. However, at the time of its construction this impregnable-looking fort loomed along the shoreline, manned and cannoned to protect the Dutch’s interests in the Cape from other colonial powers. However, land reclamation projects in subsequent centuries mean it is now far removed from the coast.
The Castle is shaped like a star, and its five bastions are named after the titles of Prince William of Orange: Leerdam, Buuren, Catzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje.
Visit the Castle
The Castle of Good Hope is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily. Entrance is R30 for adults, R15 for children.
There are guided tours at 11 am, noon and 2 pm every day except Sunday.
The Key Ceremony, which depicts the unlocking of the Castle, is performed at 10 am and noon on weekdays, followed by the firing of the Signal Cannon.
Horse-and-carriage rides are conducted in the Castle grounds daily at 10:30 am, 12:45 pm and 2:45 pm (R150 for adults, R50 for children).
Go to www.castleofgoodhope.co.za or call +27 21 787 1260 for more information.
Click here for an interactive view of the castle grounds.