Castle of Good Hope
The Castle Of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.! It was once a fort, but today it functions as a showcase of the Cape’s early days.
The Castle of Good Hope - Over 300 years of history
The Castle Of Good Hope was built by the Dutch East India Company more than 300 years back. It took 13 years for construction only (from 1666 to 1679).
The Castle replaced an older fort called the Fort de Goede Hoop which was constructed from clay and timber and built by Jan van Riebeeck upon his arrival at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652.
Two redoubts, Redoubt Kyckuit and Redoubt Duijnhoop, were built at the mouth of the Salt River in 1654. The purpose of the Dutch settlement in the Cape was to act as a replenishment station for ships passing the treacherous coast around the Cape on long voyages between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
From 1678 the Castle of Good Hope was the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from It.
Castle of Good Hope Today
It is big , yet unremarkable till you’re standing in front of it. The Castle of Good Hope is situated in Cape Town’s city centre beside Cape Town's main railway station. It is just a few steps away from the central station and the modern shopping malls. When visiting the Castle of Good Hope you will immerse yourself for a journey back in time to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Today the Castle of Good Hope the seat of the military in the Cape region, and it hosts three museums, including:
- Castle Military Museum
- Iziko Museums Cape Town (Secunde’s House and William Fehr Collection)
- William Fehr Collection
More information about the Castle of Good Hope Museums:
Castle Military Museum
The original entrance to the Castle, the ‘Waterpoort’ was located in the wall between Buuren and Catzenellenbogen Bastions. But from the outset, the sea level at high or spring tides made access to the Castle impossible.
Iziko Hope Gallery (with changing exhibitions at Secunde’s House) and William Fehr Collection
This residence was built in 1695 to accommodate the second in command. Like all the officers’ residences, the kitchen is situated in the cellar, the living and dining rooms on the floor above, and the sleeping quarters at the top.
William Fehr Collection
This part of the castle exhibits various historically decorated with furniture, paintings and accessories of the 17th to 19th centuries.
A day at the Castle of Good Hope
The Castle of Good Hope is opened every day (Monday to Sunday).
The day at the Castle of Good Hope begins with the Key Ceremony. This ceremony was performed in the Castle from its earliest days and depicts the unlocking of the Castle of Good Hope.
Just after that, a Mini Canon ( The Signal Canon) is fired.
This ceremony is symbolic to indicate the significance of cannons at the Castle of Good Hope.
Both of the ceremonies are performed by the Castle’s Guard.
After the Key ceremony and firing of signal cannon, the castle is opened for the public and you can start your visit to the Castle of Good Hope!
Guided Tours of the Castle
Guided Tours are offered daily (except Sunday), allowing visitors to explore every corner of the Castle . The first tour starts at 11am . As part of the tour you will visit the key highlights of the Castle of Good Hope as well as to climb the battlement for 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.
The tour lasts about 30 minutes and leads among others to Bakhuys & Dolphin Pool and the torture chamber of the castle.
Afterward there is enough time to stroll around, take photos or visit one of the museums and the exhibitions.
The visit and tour of the Castle of Good Hope providers a good of how life were in the Cape region almost 300 years ago.
Horse and Carriage Rides
Another activity which is also available at the Castle of Good Hope is the Horse & Carriage Rides which are offered daily .
Horse and Carriage rides are wonderful way to experience the beauty of the Castle, also having a breathtaking views of Cape Town.
Sit back and relax in a stylish coach while you take in some of town’s most popular attractions starting from the Castle of Good Hope.
You will enjoy a peaceful trip on the horse and carriage ride with your partners, friends and family or even make new friends in the comfort of the carriage!
As part of the carriage tour you will stop at the Company Gardens, which is a 3 minutes distance from the Castle, where you can feed the squirrels and have a visit of the gardens.
Horse and carriage Rides takes approximately 1 hour.
This pool has a dolphin’s form fountain in the middle and it also contains lots of beautiful fishes.
The original Dolphin Pool was named after this impressive dolphin’s shape fountain itself. It was later reconstructed as it seen now. The original Dolphin Pool and fountain have been reconstructed from the remains of the clay floor and walls exposed in 1982, using descriptions and sketches made by Lady Anne Barnard during the late 1790s.
In the past the dolphin was a popular maritime symbol, which was often used on maps and other objects.
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!
Cape of Good Hope - Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday: 9am - 4pm (last admission 3:30pm);
Key ceremony and firing of signal cannon: Monday to Friday 10am - 12 pm (firings Saturdays at 11am and 12pm)
Guided Daily Tours: Monday to Saturday at 11h00, 12h00 and 14h00 (tours are not offered during Sundays)
Horse and Carriage Rides: Daily at 10h30, 12h45 and 14h45. Rides take approximately one hour.
Comments: The Castle of Good Hope is open seven days a week (Monday to Sunday) and only closed to the public on Christmas Day(25 Dec) and New Year(01 Jan). No guided tours on Sundays.