The Castle of Good Hope
A treasure trove of South Africa’s history
Many travellers to Cape Town overlook one of Cape Town’s oldest and most interesting sites while exploring the many attractions the city has to offer.
This major attraction achieved National Monument status in 1936, and suits family outings, history buffs, and those looking to add variety to their visit. The site offers affordable entrance fees with discounts for children, students, and pensioners as well as school groups.
Visitors are welcome between 09h00 and 16h00 seven days a week, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
About The Castle of Good Hope
The Castle is a fort constructed out of granite from Signal hill and slate from Robben Island. It was built in the shape of a five-pointed star by soldiers, volunteers, prisoners, and slaves.
Despite widespread belief, work on The Castle only commenced four years after Jan van Riebeeck left Cape Town, although he did come up with the idea.
Originally, the Castle stood with its foundations in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and it was painted yellow in parts to keep the interiors cool.
Each star is named after one of the main titles of William III of Orange-Nassau, i.e., Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje.
In its heyday, the Castle contained a church, bakery, shops, prison cells, workshops, and living quarters. Today it serves as a military HQ for the city of Cape Town.
Despite its imposing, well-fortified outlook, The Castle has never been attacked.
Touring the Castle
Guided castle tours are an excellent starting point, highlighting the fascinations of South Africa’s oldest colonial building, built during the 1600s. During these tours you’ll get to see several immaculately preserved sites like:
- Het Bakhuys, the old bakery
- Dolphin Pool
- A fully functioning forge
- The old prison cells
These explorations depart daily at 11h00, 12h00, 14h00, and 15h00.
Exhibitions at The Castle
Although some activities, like the canon ceremony, guard ceremony and horse and carriage tours have yet to re-open, the Castle is still home to a wealth of interesting exhibitions. These include:
The William Fehr Collection
The William Fehr collection is on Block F’s Kat Balcony. It’s home to an extensive collection of beautifully preserved furniture, art, and ceramics dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th century.
This dwelling was home to Cape Town’s second-in-command. It’s a gorgeous showcase of the style of that time, beautifully preserved for visitors to admire.
Hailed as one of the most impressive museums in the country this rooftop venue has fascinating displays of military books, badges, uniforms, medals, small arms, and swords. An onsite curio shop sells mementos of your visit.
Cape Moslem Slave & Heritage Exhibition
This is one of the newer exhibits, built to acknowledge the contributions of the Old Cape’s slave population to the development of the city and the Castle itself.
It’s home to a moving collection of relics, paintings, artefacts, and photographs depicting the history of these people and the role they’ve played throughout Cape Town’s history.
Like the exhibition above, the Camissa, meaning ‘’sweet waters’’, exhibition acknowledges people of races other than European.
It tells the history of the Khoi San and Xhosa people who called the Cape home long before the colonists arrived. Importantly, it tells this story from their point of view and not from a Western perspective.
This makes the Camissa Exhibition a particularly fascinating stop during your visit to The Castle.
Getting to the Castle
The Castle is conveniently located on Strand Street close to the Cape Town CBD, and easily reached via bus, taxi or motor car. You can contact them via telephone on 021 787 1200 or 021 461 4673 during office hours.
Make sure you include a trip to this iconic building in your itinerary when you next visit Cape Town and browse our travel guide and maps for more ideas to maximize your trip to the Mother City.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.