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Castle of good hope
Written by Rushenka Christopher on May 14, 2020 Share on

The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town

This pentagonal fortress is the oldest colonial building in South Africa. The Castle of Good Hope was built by Dutch Colonialists in the 17th century and has become an iconic landmark of Cape Town. This majestic fortress served as the seat of government and military operations for over two centuries. You can take a tour of the castle’s two museums and the expansive grounds to learn all about the cultural past of Cape Town.


The Dutch East India Company (DEIC) came to the Table shore in 1652 to establish a base for ships that were leaving to East Asia from Europe and to also establish their monopoly over the Spice trade. The first commander of the Cape, Jan Van Riebeek laid the first stone to mark the original Fort de Goede Hoop (Faith of Good Hope).

Fort SA
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

As this was a Duch settlement, the DEIC ordered that a fort should be built replacing the old stone walls once the threat of war loomed between England and Netherlands. The majority of construction work to build the fort was done by sailors and soldiers.

The castle has 5 bastions that are named after the main tiles of Phillip William, the Dutch Prince of Orange. These bastions- Leerdam, Oranje, Nassau, Katzenellenbogen, and Buuren housed their own Garrison magazine, storerooms, and bakeries.

Another fort was built in the shape of a star to avert any attack by the sea. The construction of this moat and fort was completed in 1679 and it was right on the shore of Table Bay. The castle has been moved away from the shore due to land reclamation in the 1930s and 1940s to make way for the foreshore and Table Bay Harbour.

The Castle of Good Hope was the seat of the government of DEIC until the British took over in 1795. It also serves as the official quarters of the Governor of Cape during the first few decades until he relocated. The castle continued to be the political center until the birth of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Since 1917, it has been operated by the South African National Defence Force who till date manage this National Monument

Castle grounds

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The castle was open to provide shelter for free burghers (free citizens) and slaves while it served as the official quarters for DIEC personnel. People who were traveling to the East Indies would also use this as a lodge back in the days.

A defensive wall called Kat was built in 1695 to protect the fort from a land attack. This diagonal wall is a Dutch design masterpiece. The Governor and the second-in-command stayed here and the main hall also served as a church.

The entrance to the governor’s house has a balcony called the Kat Balcony. This is an iconic place as this is where all the announcements and judicial sentences were read out to the people who lived in the castle. The fluted pillars and beautifully designed railings were the brain baby of Anton Anreith who was a renowned sculptor.

military museum
Image by Jeanine Smal from Pixabay 

The military museum showcases a wide array of military artifacts and exhibits that date back to the 17th and 19th centuries. You can also find the Iziko William Fehr Collection of paintings, furniture, and antiques that portray the history of the Cape.

On your visit to this beautiful Castle of Good Hope, you can witness a guard changing ceremony. You can also be a part of the key changing ceremony if you happen to be there at 10 am. This is the ceremonial unlocking of the castle and it is an interesting event to witness.

With so many interesting places to see, South Africa has definitely become a globally favorite tourist destination. Head over to and choose your favorite itinerary. These are 100% customizable so its makes it all easier to have your vacation personalized. Book with us and let us take care of your vacation while you dream about your trip to South Africa.

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