Signal Hill is the Northern tip of the terrestrial area of the Table Mountain National Park, connecting Kloof Nek to Lion’s Head. It is one of the most famous spots in Cape Town for sundowners. From Signal Hill's peak which is 350m high, one can enjoy spectacular views, especially at night.
The Signal Hill is also known as Lion’s Rump, as it is attached to Lion’s Head by a ‘spine’ of hills.
Signal Hill is now among the “To-Do” list of popular things to do in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
On a beautiful clear day, all you have to do is to drive up or walk up this hill for breathing the fresh mountain air and enjoy the wonderful views of the Cape Town city and the Harbour. All year round, there are family-friendly picnic spots on Signal Hill which are highly appreciated by both tourists and locals.
With thousands of locals and tourists coming over to enjoy the exceptional view of the Sunset over the Atlantic; Signal Hill is a little like ‘lovers lane’ and a trendy sundowner venue. In the evenings, the views from the summit are absolutely breathtaking. Couples looking for romance can take up a bottle of champagne and enjoy the magic of the lights, especially when Table Mountain is lit up during Summer.
Signal Hill - History
Signal Hill Cape Town was used as a point from which signal flags were used to communicate with ships, therefore the name ‘Signal Hill’.
The flags were used for communication of weather warnings as well as anchoring instructions to ensure that the ships were effectively prepared for stormy weather while in the bay.
Signal Hill was also the early settlement’s lookout point, and when a ship was spotted, flags were lifted to give the inhabitants of Cape Town below enough time to set up their goods for sale.
The Noon Gun on Signal Hill Cape Town
Signal Hill is the historic hill from where the Noon Gun, a large cannon is fired daily at 12h00 all year round (except on Sundays and public holidays).
Accurate to the nearest millisecond, the Noon Gun booms over the Cape Town City, still surprising the long-term residents of Cape Town, and certainly has visitors looking anxious.
In 1795, after the English occupation of the Cape, the British brought the cannons to Signal Hill. It was the first used in 1806, and its backup cannon are the oldest guns in the entire world that are still in daily use. There are actually two cannons on Signal Hill, so even if the main canon fails, there is a backup cannon.
In the early days the cannon was placed at the Castle of Good Hope, the Noon Day gun was used as a time signal for anchored ships in Table Bay. These guns were later moved to Signal Hill in 1902, overlooking the Mother City, the harbour and Table Bay, serving as time signals for ships entering the bay and the harbour.
Moreover, the gun had another part to play in Cape Town's history. During the Second World War, when it was fired, all the citizens of Cape Town would stop for 2 minutes of silence and reflect on those who had died during the war.
The daily Noon Gun is now Cape Town’s oldest living tradition, existing for over 200 years already. The cannon is now fired electronically from The South African Astronomical Observatory.
Today, the Noon Day Gun adds up to those little idiosyncrasies that sets Cape Town apart and makes the mother city such an exciting and intriguing place to visit, and you can watch the ritual every day up on Signal Hill at Lion Battery, from 11:30.
How to Get to Signal Hill
Signal Hill is located next to Lions' Head and separates the suburbs of Green Point and Sea Point from the City Bowl.
It can be accessed via the city centre (by following the signs from the corner of Bloem and Buitengracht Streets, heading up to Lion Battery via Military Road in the Bo-Kaap).
At the Lion Battery, which is owned by the SA Navy, does a presentation starting at 11h30 on the history of the firing of the Noon Gun.
People are welcomed to observe the daily firing of the gun from the Lion Battery.