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August 05, 2013

Top haunted places in Cape Town

Editor's Note: This blog was first published on August 10, 2012 and has been updated.

Cape Town is the oldest city in the country, with many tales of brave pioneers and its fair share of broken hearts and tragedies. It’s only natural then that our Mother City should have a few ghost stories. Here are some spooky spots….

Presiding over the City Bowl, Leeuwenhof Estate dates back to the earliest days of European settlement in the Cape and is now the official residence of the Premier of the Western Cape. Throughout the history of Leeuwenhof there have been tales of lights inexplicably going on after they were switched off and an older woman is said to haunt the ground floor. It is told there is also a ghost of a young woman who died of heartbreak when her family disapproved of her lover.

Jac Loopuyt House, the Ghost House of Rondebosch, gives passers-by chills down their spines. Photo courtesy Rabbit in a Hat Communications

Jac Loopuyt House, also known as The Ghost House of Rondebosch, is a picturesque Edwardian residence nicknamed "The Spook House". It is rumoured that a strange cult resided there in the 1970’s and there are stories of doors being opened and closed inexplicably and a transparent elderly man wandering around.

Keep an eye out for the ghostly woman watching you from the upstairs windows at the Rust-en-Vreug museum. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

An ornate building dating back to the late 1700s, Rust-en-Vreugd, is now an art museum where it is not uncommon to hear visitor accounts of ghost sightings. Some guests hear footsteps, some see a woman drifting between the downstairs rooms and others see a different woman staring down on them from an upstairs window. It is reported that dogs often snarl at the painting of British Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset.

Tokai Manor House is said to be the scene of a grizzly 1900s New Year's Eve celebration gone wrong. Photo courtesy Ian Junor

Jittery witnesses at Tokai Manor House report seeing a re-enactment of a New Year's Eve spectacle from the early 1900’s when a young nobleman was dared to ride his horse around the living room. Due to a large amount of alcohol consumption and loud noises that spooked his horse he was unable to control the animal and the horse galloped out the door and toppled off the high veranda, killing both the horse and the nobleman.

The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town's oldest building, is said to be home to many a restless spirit. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

As one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings, the Castle of Good Hope has many a tale to tell. Workers and visitors report hearing voices and footsteps in the windowless dungeon and in the narrow corridors of the building. The bell in the Bell Tower, which was walled up centuries ago after a soldier hung himself with the bell-rope, sometimes rings of its own accord. A black dog is also said to haunt the property and has been known to approach visitors and then disappear.

Lady Anne Barnard is another of the Castle's ghostly residents. In the late eighteenth century, Lady Anne lived at the Castle as the colony's First Lady and end often entertained important dignitaries. Lady Anne's ghost is said to have appeared at parties held in honour of important visitors as well as at Dolphin Pool, where she bathed. Another known ghost story is that of Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt, who was apparently a strict and militant man, once sentencing seven soldiers to die by hanging. One of the soldiers is said to have cursed him. Later that day, Van Noodt was found dead at his desk, having died of a heart attack.

Groote Schuur Hospital is believed to be haunted by a number of apparitions. A young nurse who contracted a terminal disease during World War Two and shot herself still roams the corridors, a Sister with white eyes apparently walks around the hospital, a young man who fell to his death while trying to escape from the upper floor also continues to haunt the hospital and a grey lady, named Sister Fatima, tries to help the nursing staff on their rounds.

There are many ghost stories to come out of Simon’s Town too. The Simon’s Town Museum is said to be home to a haunted painting of a young lady – photos of this painting cannot be developed. Admiralty House is also well-known for its spirits of deceased naval officers and a woman in a grey dress.

At Groot Constantia the ghost of Simon van der Stel has been seen strolling to the swimming pool on summer mornings to bathe, and Green Point Lighthouse, dating back to 1824, is believed to be haunted by a one-legged lighthouse-keeper.

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