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 Castle of Good Hope has been the centre of life at the Cape since its inception in January 1666. It has survived many challenges in its time and was constantly under threat of being demolished for personal and materialistic gain. Sentiment in the early days whereby the then Imperial Government offered the Castle for sale for a mere £83.340, would seem to be nothing new and thanks to the military authorities they evoked a strong public reaction in favour of retaining the Castle of Good Hope.
The gateway – built in 1682 – replaced the old entrance, which faced the sea. The pediment bears the coat of arms of the United Netherlands, portraying the crowned lion rampant holding the seven arrows of unity in its paw. Carved on the architrave below are the arms of Van Hoorn, Delft , Amsterdam, Middelburg, Rotterdam and Enkhuizen—all Dutch cities in which the United East India Company had chambers. Two VOC (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie) monograms flank the carvings.
The two pilasters, entablature and pediment above are built of grey-blue stone, while the entrance is made of small yellow bricks called ijselstene, making it a unique example of 17th century Dutch classicism at the Cape .
Sections of the moat, which previously formed part of the defence system of the Castle, were rebuilt in 1992 during restorations.
The Castle of Good Hope would be referred to as ‘Kui keip'(Stone Kraal) by the Khoina.
Protecting its interests against the British and French would obviously require soldiers and therefore a military presence. These soldiers served the Dutch East Indian Company and were remunerated for their services. This explains the military presence at the Castle of Good Hope until this day in terms of safeguarding of the facility, guard duties and military ceremonies.
Built by soldiers, sailors and slaves, the walls were clad in local stone. The Castle of Good Hope was to fulfill its role as a replenishment station of the Dutch East Indian Company and to protect its logistical and financial interests along the “spice route”.
One is taken back in History and life at the Cape of Good Hope. This is evident when one visits the William Fehr Collection and the Castle Military Museum.
The Castle of Good Hope was a welcome sight for sailors traveling up to six months at sea and referring to Cape Town as the “Tavern of the Seas”.
The Castle of Good Hope is a member of SATSA and supports Cape Town Tourism.
Come and visit this unique heritage site in the centre of Cape Town and 20 minutes drive from Cape Town International.