January 31, 2013
Five things you didn’t know about the Castle of Good Hope
Fazielah Williams has lived in and loved her Mother City since birth. Having lived all over the Peninsula during her childhood, she now calls the picturesque City Bowl home and likes nothing more than watching the sun set over Table Bay from the window of her apartment.
A lover of the arts and proud Cape Town fanatic, Fazielah began her writing career by spending many hours as a child conjuring fantastical stories that featured independent heroines from faraway lands who saved the Prince instead. This Capetonian princess has enjoyed stints as a magical arts PRO and TV publicist before finding her calling as a travel writer.
When not waxing lyrical about the Fairest Cape’s most loved attractions and activities and embarking on unexpected adventures, Fazielah can usually be found taking in a show at one of the City’s fabulous theatres.
A Cape Town landmark, the Castle of Good Hope, is a prime example of a “star fort”. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, it’s the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa. Its position marks the original shoreline before years of land reclamation changed the Table Bay coastline.
Castle of Good Hope 101 …
• The first stone was laid on 2 January 1666 and it was completed by April 1679
• The Castle was built by soldiers, volunteers, slaves and Khoi undergoing punishment. The building housed everything from a church, bakery and living quarters, to various workshops, shops and prison cells, among other facilities
• In 1936 the Castle of Good Hope was declared a national monument
And some lesser-known things with which to impress your dinner guests …
• The Castle of Good Hope was not built by Jan Van Riebeeck. A four-pointed clay and timber fort was the first building to be erected in his time, and it was his suggestion that this be replaced by a more permanent structure that could withstand the elements and possible attacks. The existing stone “star fort” was built four years after Jan van Riebeeck left the Cape
• The Castle of Good Hope was referred to as "Kui keip" (Stone Kraal) by the Khoi and sometimes "Citadel" by Dutch settlers
• Yellow paint was originally chosen for the walls because it reduced the effects of the hot African sun
On a visit to the Castle today you can expect to pay R28 entry for adults, and R12 for children under the age of 16. You can even see a blacksmith in action – just as he would have operated during the 17th and 18th centuries, when castles housed their own forges.