Touring Groote Schuur Estate

The Groote Schuur Estate is situated on the mountainside beneath the landmark mountain called Devil’s Peak in the beautiful coastal city of Cape Town, South Africa. This large piece of park-like land was bequeathed to the South African nation by Cecil John Rhodes who died in 1902. Today, this legacy is being protected and developed by South African National Parks for the enjoyment of all South Africans and visitors.

The Rhodes Memorial and the cottage that currently houses a tea garden were built between 1910 and 1912 under the direction of architect and designer, Sir Herbert Baker. The memorial was built after Rhodes’ death and Baker modeled it after the Greek Temple at Segesta. It was built on the spot that was a particular favorite of Rhodes, where he would sit for hours enjoying the view which he often declared to be unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

The large gabled mansion on the estate, also called Groote Schuur, which literally means “Great Barn”, started off as a 17th century granary that was converted into a house. The house later burned down and Rhodes commissioned his architect friend, Herbert Baker, to reconstruct the house to serve as the official residence for the Prime Minister of South Africa. After 1994, when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, the Genadendal building (previously called Westbrooke) on the Groote Schuur Estate became the official residence of the President, and the Groote Schuur building was turned into a museum. The interior of Groote Schuur is arrayed with exquisite and intricate tapestries, and a fine collection of English and Cape silver forms part the items on display.

A building called The Woolsack, which once served as a summer home for Rudyard Kipling, now forms part of the University of Cape Town. Medical students at the University of Cape Town on the Groote Schuur Estate are trained at Groote Schuur Hospital. It was at this hospital that Professor Chris Barnard and his medical team performed the world’s first human heart transplant. The stately ivy-covered campus buildings of the University of Cape Town afford incredible views of Table Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Groote Schuur Estate also incorporates a traditional Dutch windmill, known as Mostert’s Mill, and the Baxter Theatre complex, as well as paddocks which are the grazing grounds for a number of exotic animals including Chinese deer and Himalayan tahrs.

Visitors to the lovely city of Cape Town should be sure to explore the fascinating Groote Schuur Estate for a taste of South African culture and history.