The Cape Town Red City Tour's free Yellow Downtown Tour bus will take you to the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa, The Castle of Good Hope. The Castle was built between 1666 and 1679 by Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station and a defensive fort against unwanted visitors and even the unpredictable Cape Town weather at times.
› Discover why the Castle of Good Hope was built
› Learn the names of the five points of the Cape Castle
› Understand why it was built on that exact location
In 1664 there were renewed rumours of war between Britain and the Netherlands and they feared a British attack on the Cape. Zacharias Wagenaer was instructed to build a five-pointed stone castle - the “Kasteel de Goede Hoop”. The Castle was planned from a central point with five bastions, named after the main titles of Willem, the Prince of Orange. The Western bastion was named Leerdam, followed in clockwise order by Buuren, Catzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje.
Although today the Castle is far away from the sea, it was originally built on the beach, Strand Street - translated as "Beach Street", which passes the structure. The area where the Cape Town station now stands was originally under the ocean and has been built on land reclaimed over the years so that today the ocean is a couple of kilometres distant. The links between each of these historic locations can be clearly seen on Cape Town maps, creating a greater picture of Cape Town from years past.
› Learn more about the Castle’s soldiers and sailors
› Discover the first entrance of this unique heritage site
› Differentiate between the original structure and the restorations
Being first and foremost a defensive fort, the Castle of Good Hope naturally had to protect it interest with a military presence. These soldiers served the Dutch East Indian Company and were remunerated for their services.
The actual building of the Castle itself was done by soldiers, sailors and slaves, who built the walls with 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”. The Castle 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 gateway – built in 1682 – replaced the old entrance, which faced the sea.
Sections of the moat, which previously formed part of the defense system of the Castle, were rebuilt in 1992 during restorations.
› See the soldiers perform their military duties
› Take a stroll in the Castle Military Museum
› Get taken aback by the Castle’s history when seeing the William Fehr Collection
Soldiers are still present to this day at the Castle in honour of its history and safeguarding of the facility, guard duties and military ceremonies. The Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape, and houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town. Here one can get a glimpse of life at the Cape during the 17th and 18th centuries and the Castle History Museum.
In 1936 the Castle was declared a National Monument. Today it is a member of SATSA and it fully supports Cape Town Tourism.
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