The Castle, was Built between 1665 and 1676 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to replace an earthen fort constructed by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, it's the oldest building in the country. Its pentagonal plan, with a diamond-shape bastion at each corner, is typical of the Old Netherlands defense system adopted in the early 17th century.in the shape of a five - pointed star, with walls of stone and earth more than 10 metres high.
Five bastions were built, one at each point of the star,and named after the titles of the Prince of Orange, the Dutch ruler at the time of the settlement i.e Buren, Leerdam, Oranje, Nassau and Catzenellenbogen.
As added protection, the whole fortification was surrounded by a moat, and the sea nearly washed up against its walls. The castle served as both the VOC headquarters and the official governor's residence, and still houses the regional headquarters of the National Defence Force. Despite its bellicose origins, no shot has ever been fired from its ramparts, except ceremonially.
You can wander around on your own or join one of the guided tours at no extra cost. Also worth seeing is the excellent William Fehr Collection. Housed in the governor's residence, it consists of antiques, artifacts, and paintings of early Cape Town and South African history. Conservationists should go upstairs to see John Thomas Baine's The Greatest Hunt in Africa, celebrating a "hunt" in honor of Prince Alfred, when nearly 30,000 animals were driven together and slaughtered.
Dungeons were built below sea level.No attack has ever been launched against the Castle.
Today the Castle is the headquarters of the Western Cape Military Command.It also houses a military and a maritime museum which may be viewed.
Cost: R25 for adults and R10 children & students
Open: Weekdays 9-3:30, Sat. 9-1; tours at 11, noon, and 2
This castle protected Cape Town throughout the Colonial years. Once a waterfront land reclamation now has it a good 1/2 Km from the actual bay. This is a bit out of the way but it is definitely worth a visit.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, better known as the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), this pentagonal fortification replaced a small clay and timber fort built in 1652 by Commander Jan van Riebeeck,
The Castle of Good Hope opens daily at 09:00 and closes at 16:00.
Open from Monday to Sunday. The Castle is closed to the public on Christmas day (25 December) and New Year's day (01 January).
Guided tours are conducted by Castle guides from Monday to Saturday
at 11:00, 12:00 and 14:00.
Fee: R20 adults R10 children
Lots of authentic furniture, household goods to see. Visit the dungeon where criminals were kept. Creepy, mouldy, dark and damp.
Switch of the light to get a real feeling of the place. 5 seconds is too long. People were kept her for months and years.
This is a must see.
2006: Five years later nothing much has changed. Work on the balcony is completed and I could take a nice photo. The entrance fee is still the same. R10 also applies to students so I didn't have to pay the adult fee for Garreth which was nice.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest colonial building in South Africa. It was built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company to replace the older fort made of clay and timber which was constructed by Jan van Riebeeck. It was to serve as a replenishment point for ships passing the Cape on their long voyages between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies. It's not hard to imagine how happy the sailors were at the sight of the castle after spending the long months at sea. No wonder they called the place "The Tavern of the Seas". What's interesting, in the past the building was located much closer to the coastline, but due to the land reclamation the distance to the sea has increased.
Inside the fort, which is built in the shape of pentagon, there used to be living quarters, shops and workshops, a church and even a prison which was mainly used during the second Boer war.
Today there is a museum, where you can learn interesting facts about the military and cultural history of Cape Town. If you happen to be there at ten o'clock a.m. on weekdays, you will witness the key ceremony and two hours later the Change of the Guards.
You can visit the interiors on a guided tour, but I think that independent visits are also possible.
Entrance fee: R 25.00 ( about 3.50 US dollars)
This old 17th century fort looks a bit like a dump from the outside, but when you walk into the compound there's actually quite a few things worth seeing. Part of it is still in use and we saw armed soldiers marching to and fro. Apart from the charming little museum we found the tea shop very pleasing.
This building was the first european structure in South Africa and is considered to be the nation’s oldest building still preserved. As Cape Town is often named “Mother City”, the Castle of Good Hope is seen as the nucleus of the South African state. The castle was built in 1652 as a wooden structure, but replaced between 1666 and 1672 by the present castle. The castles bastions were added in the next decades, with all of their names referring to parts of the title of Prince William of Orange (Leerdam, Buuren, Catzenellenbogen, Nassau, Orange). On top of the castle, you’ll see the flags South Africa used in its history, including the current one.
In the castle a visit to several smaller exhibitions is possible. Most of them are related to the castle, but there are also art galleries and exhibitions on the castle grounds. They are located in the former workshops and storage rooms of the castle. The former governor’s house, in the middle of the castle, is only partly open for public. This part of the castle is officially still in use as military structure, but only has ceremonial status. It is worth to visit the castle in the morning and wait until noon, because then you have the chance to see the traditional ceremonies of the castle guard. One is the key ceremony in which the symbolic key to the castle is handed out to the guardsmen. Then the castle is unlocked and the key presented to the public. The other ceremony is the firing of the signal cannon which is performed afterwards. It is a small cannon which only has the purpose of making a lot of noise (the signal…). Both ceremonies are explained during their performance via loudspeaker. They take place in front of the governour’s house, right in the middle of the castle.
The Castle of Good Hope was built to replace the Post de Goed Hoop, hastily built by Jan van Riebeeck, on what is now the huge parking lot in front of the City Hall across from the castle. The castle is the permanent home to two major galleries, one of historical paintings and furniture and one of South Africa?s military history. Furthermore, the castle regularly holds temporary exhibitions and events (like Christmas Carols in mid-December). Among the rush of Cape Town?s east end, the Castle of Good Hope is a haven of tranquility. For some quaint reason, this bastion of almost medieval fortification remains a military establishment (actually the head of the military in the Western Cape) and soldiers can be seen relaxing under the trees and in their restaurant underneath the old Governor?s House.
R20 plus R5 for a fold-out guide leaflet. A more substantial historical book can be bought (R80) at the Military Museum shop to the left of the first courtyard. However, the excellent, discreet signboards all around the castle provide adequate information for all but the most hardened of military buffs or students of architecture.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this castle is the lengths with which the authorities have gone to return the castle to its earlier form, even going so far as to change some of the windows on the Governor?s residence because in a previous restoration they were slightly out of proportion. Recently, a stone building on the western wall has been rebuilt and they are recreating a herb garden that originally sat on the outer ramparts.
The Castle of Good Hope is arguably the oldest fully intact building in southern Africa, dating from 1666 (the same year as the Great Fire of London) although it wasn?t completed until 1679. It replaced the mud and stockade fort that van Riebeeck had put up some fourteen years earlier nearby. The castle was largely complete, and used, from 1674, and from 1678 it was the seat of "government" of the Cape. Of course, there are many older indigenous structures in southern Africa, but none, apparently, still used. It did make me wonder though if any of the San-Bushmen cave shelters are technically still intact and usable, because some of them date back tens of thousands of years. Anyway, moving swiftly on.
The castle originally stood right on the beach and the main entrance was from the beach. The road running past the castle to the north is called Strand (the Dutch and Afrikaans word for beach), and on occasion high seas breached the front door. After some years, presumably because they were occasionally isolated by storms, the front entrance was made in the western wall, where it remains today. The original plan was on a star-form, a very traditional Dutch style of fortification (incidentally a perfect and almost identical castle can be seen from the air if you are approaching the runway at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport from the north -.just three minutes before landing), but it was originally perfected by the French (seen classically at Lille in northern France), and in particular, Sebastien de Vauban, the 17th Century military engineer and architect.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest and one of the most well-known and well-visited buildings in Cape Town. It is built in the shape of a pentagon, with 5 towers. Each tower is named after the first 5 ships that arrived at the Cape when it was a colony.
It was primarily a small wood and clay fort built by Jan van Riebeeck, but was later build with proper materials by the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie). In 1936 the Castle of Good Hope was declared a national monument. It then underwent an extensive restoration programme, and now remains one of the best kept (preserved) fortifications of its kind built by the VOC.
It is a superb castle to visit, with so much to show the visitor, child and adult alike. From exhibits, to art work, to architecture, to tours. It has it all.
From the outside, the great stone walls seem low and squat, but a sense of proportion returns when you approach the entrance archway, and the arrangement of buildings inside is impressive - although it can get terribly hot in the courtyards in the summer. The Castle of Good Hope was surveyed by Heinrich Lacus and the engineer Peter Dombaer, master mason Douwe Gerbrandtz Steyn and master carpenter Adriaan van Braekel.
The castle was a major feat of engineering for those early soldiers and sailors, as most material had to be brought in from afar. Many of the yellow stones (klompjes) were transported all the way from the Netherlands by ship. The timber came from the woods at Houts Bay, the lime from Robben Island, and yet more stone from quarries on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. The wretched builders were exhausted by the whole business, and mutinined on several occasions. It seems, though, that at one point, even the Governor and his wife joined in, carrying basketloads of soil to the construction site.
The entrance gateway is similar to those seen in Dutch towns, and is modelled on the actual gateway to the city of Dordrecht, to the east of Rotterdam. The route into the fortress twists sharply - a cunning way to prevent the front gates being rushed by a force - and is flanked by whitewashed sentry boxes just big enough to fit a soldier. Above the archway, is a small octagonal bell tower from 1684 holding the oldest bell in South Africa, cast in 1697, which was used to mark the time during the day. The chimes could be heard all over Cape Town, as the cliffs of Table Mountain echoes the sound.
This new entrance was constructed in 1682 to replace the original front entrance facing the beach, and is the most harmonious example of Dutch architecture on the Cape, with a beautiful arrangement on the pediment. This shows the coat-of-arms of the Netherlands. Immediately below are the coats-of-arms of the six biggest Dutch cities. As a quirk of history, it is worth noting that only Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Delft remain big cities now; Enjkuizen, Middelburg and Van Hoorn have all subsided in importance now.
Inside the huge castle wall, the castle is softer and less forbidding, as the pentagon shape is lined with buildings, with a long facade of buildings - the Kat - crossing over the centre of the fort, so dividing it into two sections. The courtyard is grassed over, which it was not originally, but it certainly keeps the heat down now!
The oldest part of the castle is the long line of wall and building to the right of the courtyard, with the Captain?s Tower above: it was where a lookout watch was kept over both Table Bay and the settlement of Cape Town. It is possible to climb up the staircase in the corner to reach the Leerdam bastion - and it is also possible, from there, to walk along the circumference of the outer wall. On the Leerdam is a row of six flagpoles carrying the six flags to have flown over the castle down the centuries. It is one of the very few places in South Africa that you will see the old South African flag these days.
Underneath B block, in the corner, the old kitchen can be seen, although it has now been excavated to show the original water supply arrangements for the castle. The basement areas had a habit of flooding, and repeated efforts were needed (not totally successful) to prevent water seeping in.
Alongside, an archway leads through to the rear courtyard, less elegant than the front one, but still attractive. Midway through the arched passage is a chamber holding the main well for the castle: it originally stood right in the middle of the castle courtyard. Just to the left of the archway as you emerge into the daylight again is the armoury and ammunition store (originally the grain store). The shutters are painted red as a reminder for the soldiers not to smoke ner all those explosives! At the end of this block, on the outer wall, is the remains of the prison cells, although the main prison block is not always open to the public. A bleak windowless torture chamber is at the back of the castle in the far corner of E block. Off to the right here is the old forge, bakery and kitchens, and a square pool (the first swimming pool in Africa?), known as the Dolphin Pool. This part of the castle is still used by the South African Defence Forces and there is no admittance to the buildings. Perhaps one of the most endearing scenes is the present-day canteen and kitchens (what Dean MacCannell calls the "back-stage"!) of the SADF garrison, sitting right underneath the governor's house. This arrangement, of the kitchens on the lower floor, has been in place since the very first days of this castle!
The last building, G block lies on the northern wall, and is now the Castle Military Museum, reviewed separately. Old Portuguese cannons lie outside the doorway, which was the original entrance to the castle - a mural on the far wall shows what it must have looked like when this led out to the beach. Note that the G block windows are arched on the left of the entrance (the officers quarters) and square sash windows to the right (the enlisted men).
It is possible to eat at the restaurant/coffee shop by the entrance, but it looked uninspiring, especially given that good cafes and restaurants are just a few minutes walk away outside!
The pool was built by Willem van der Stel, but during the british reign, they filled it with sand and used the area as a parade ground. Lady Anne Barnard made schetches of the pool and it was used to re-instate the pool again. The only thing that remains from the original pool is the steps leading into the water.
Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.
From 1678 it was the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from the Castle. Today the Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape, and houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town (William Fehr Collection).
the foundations for the Castle were laid in 1666 and replaced the original wooden fort that was built as the HQ of the Dutch East India Company. The pentagonal shaped Castle was completed in 1679
the Castle is still in use as the headquarters of the Western Province Command of the Defence Force and every day at noon there is a changing of the guard ceremony, followed by the firing of a cannon [see picture 5] I can honestly say that the biggest soldier I have possibly ever seen fired the smallest canon I have ever seen, after I had recovered from the shock of hearing such a loud bang from such a tiny thing I had a severe attack of the giggles which lasted for some time
After a cup of very good coffee on the patio outside the small restaurant we visited the three museums in the Castle, we found the military museum the most interesting but the Secunde`s House and the Governers Residence are well worth a visit for their displays of furniture, paintings and china. There are free guided tours at 11am 12pm and 2pm of the dungeon, torture chamber, ramparts and armories
entrance costs R20 for adults and R10 for children and students
the castle is open daily from 9am to 4pm except for Christmas and New Years days