Castle of Good Hope – A Treasure Trove of History
Cape Town's Castle of Good Hope boasts to being South Africa's oldest standing building - and its still in use. A fascinating structure with a grand history, the Castle of Good Hope is one of the top attractions in Cape Town. Guided tours through the impressive building are available on Mondays through to Sundays, but you are welcome to navigate your way through the myriad of halls and passages on your own. Be sure to stop in at the Castle of Good Hope for a few hours whilst staying in Cape Town.
In 1652 Commander Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company, built a simple clay and timber fort at the Cape of Good Hope during the time that he was establishing the area as an important maritime replenishment station. Between the years 1666 and 1679 this small fort was replaced by a new pentagonal fortification named the Castle of Good Hope. In April 1679 the Castle of Good Hope’s 5 bastions were given names honoring Willem, the Prince of Orange, namely Leerdam, Buuren, Orange, Catzenellenbogen and Nassau. These strong bastions are typical of 17th century European fortifications. Also guarding the Castle was a moat which fell into disuse, but has largely been restored. The Entrance and bell tower of the impressive castle are distinctly designed in the 17th century Dutch classicism style. The bell itself was created by Claude Fremy in 1697.
The Castle of Good Hope was named a South African National Monument in 1936 and during the 1980’s a project of conservation and restoration was started to preserve this noteworthy monument to South Africa’s history. Today the South African Army’s regional office of the Western Cape is located here along with ceremonial facilities for Cape Regiments. Within the Castle Military Museum visitors will discover the history of the Cape in general, the Cape Regiments and of course the Castle itself. Also located at the Castle of Good Hope is the William Fehr Collection. In this fascinating art collection are various works depicting the Cape’s cultural life in the past. So, for a journey into the history of the Cape visit South Africa’s oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope.