Robben Island and Museum
Robben Island needs no introduction with regards to the significance of its place in South Africa’s and indeed the world’s history. As “home” to one of the world’s most famous prisoners, statesmen and leader’s in Nelson Mandela, Robben Island is quite possibly most well known island-prison on the planet.
Not just a prison-island
The island, a World Heritage Site some 9km (5.5mi) offshore from Cape Town, was dubbed “Robben” (the Dutch word for seal) Island by early settlers in reference to the seal population at the time. Over the centuries, the island has housed a prison, hospital, mental institution, leper colony and a military base. The afore mentioned Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of the 27 years of his incarceration imprisoned on the island.
A tour of the island
The tour of the Robben Island Museum begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V & A Waterfront with a multimedia exhibition, a museum shop and restaurant to entertain you whilst you wait for the ferry to depart for the island. Please be sure to be there 30 minutes prior to the departure time, with the gates closing 10 minutes prior to departure.
Ferries depart at 9am, 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and each tour takes approximately 3.5 hours including the boat trip there and back (the ferry trips times vary from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the weather and the vessel). On the island, tours are all guided by former political prisoners of the island, offering the visitor a truly unique insight into the island’s history and personal accounts of prison life. The tour includes a visit to the maximum security prison, with the most poignant stop reserved for Mr. Mandela’s former cell, prepared exactly as it was when he was imprisoned here.
A bus takes you to the lime quarry where Mr. Mandela and his fellow prisoners did hard labour. Additional stopovers include the Kramat (shrine) of Tuan Guru (a Muslim leader), the Lepers’ Graveyard and the house where Robert Sobukwe lived in solitary confinement for nine years.
Tel: +27 (0)21 4095100
Address: Nelson Mandela Gateway, Clock Tower Precinct, V&A Waterfront
- Phone: +27 (0)21 413 4200
- Website: http://www.robben-island.org.za
- Physical Address: Robben Island
Martin Melck House is one of the oldest colonial homes in South Africa named after its first owner. Its history is intimately entwined with that of Cape Town itself.
PRINS & PRINS DIAMONDS MUSEUM OF GEMS AND JEWELLERY
This unique museum project takes visitors on a journey from when diamonds first began to form three billion years ago and their 150 km journey to the surface, following the unique path of South African diamonds from their origin in extinct volcanoes to the deposits along our coastline. Learn about unique and rare gemstones, and see how jewellery has changed through thousands of years. The story about South Africa’s mineral wealth is told, not only for diamonds, but also for our Platinum and Gold deposits.
This cultural village aims to remind us of our origin and serves as the reservoir for African knowledge pertaining to nature and traditions, giving us an opportunity to celebrate who we are through music (wonderful sounds from live bands) or from its’ distinct fineness of cuisine, topped up with African (local) arts and crafts.
Hot summer sun, extra long days and warm nights, sun-kissed skin and time to spend with loved ones; summer in Cape Town is the ideal time to get outdoors and enjoy getting closer to the spectacular nature that is within minutes from the bustling city.
Diamonds were formed three billion years ago by molecular-changing heat of around 1 300 °C, deep within the Earth’s crust. If you didn’t know that, then you have not been to the Cape Town Diamond Museum.
My National History Day project is on Nelson Mandela. This is a great source for background research and information. The picture is beautiful.
An OK trip, and definitely interesting to be there, just for the sake of the history. The bus guide was very good and provided very engaging stories. The Prison guide, however, was NOT good. Everything seemed too rushed and walking around in groups of 70 people+ (approx) made it hard to ask questions and to interact with the prison guide (former inmate). Also, there were not enough time to properly look around in the prison museum (reading the info etc.) This part of the trip was very disappointing.
Rev. Zola Moses
My father spent 8 years of his life here, since 1964 fighting for our freedom and equality.
I wud really lv to b there 1 day, its very interesting
How much is ti to get there. I am organising a trip with a few friends.
Sybrand van der Spuy
A major disappointment. Although still a highlight in our Cape Town visit - the contemporary historical relevance is irrefutable and certainly worth visiting/experiencing - the whole visit smells of a loosely facilitated (will hate to use the word organized) money making industry. This goes for both sides of the boat trip and especially the boat trip itself - safety seemingly NOT a primary consideration. It was heartfelt and moving to hear firsthand jail experiences from our guide in the Maximum Security Jail on the island. Unfortunately he also intertwined his valuable tales with unmasked (seemingly personal and very skewed) political propaganda, vicious racist remarks and bordering on slanderous anecdotes - certainly not doing the SA history nor the Madiba legacy any favours. Unprofessional. With a little organization and cleaning-up this can be a visit of a lifetime, as it is meant to be!
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I have never forgotten my trip to Robben Island - it is a must for all visitors. Our guide had me in tears because of his integrity and forgiveness. I don't believe enough has been done for the ex-prisoners - they should be heroes