Castle of Good
29.01.2017 - 29.01.2017
Refreshed after a much needed night's sleep, we set out to explore The Castle of Good Hope - the oldest building in Cape Town. On the way to the castle we walked past City Hall and the Grand Parade. The Grand Parade seemed to be home to many vagrants and homeless people - a reminder that Cape Town may look like paradise on Earth, but it has many problems.
The Castle of Good Hope was built by the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century. It was originally situated on the coast of Table Bay, but is now quite far inland due to land reclamation.
The Castle of Good Hope is a pentagonal shaped building surrounded by a moat. We visited on a Sunday when there is no changing of the guard ceremony or ceremony of the keys. Entry on a Sunday is 25 rand.
Once inside the castle, it is possible to walk all the way around its walls, visit some rooms filled with period furniture, see the statues of three former African kings: Cetshwayo, Langalibalele and Sekhukhune and seventeenth century resistance leader, Doman. These three African kings were once imprisoned here for fighting against the colonialists. Its also possible to visit the bell tower, former prison cells, store rooms and a torture chamber.
In the afternoon we visited Robben Island. We walked from our hotel to the waterfront. We had pre-booked a boat to the island. On arrival at the Robben Island museum and ferry building, we joined a long queue. I thought we would have to wait for a later boat, but by arriving thirty minutes early we timed it right for boarding our pre-booked boat. The views back towards Cape Town from the boat were beautiful.
Robben Island lies around 7km from Cape Town. Its name comes from the Dutch word for seal. Robben Island is oval shaped and very flat. In its eventful history it has housed a leper colony and a prison. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for eighteen years.
On arrival at the island we were ushered onto a bus for a tour round the island. We saw the prison building and its visitor center, the lepers' graveyard, the quarry where political prisoners used to work, Robben Island village, two churches, a school, a clinic, Robert Sobukwe's house. He was the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress and was considered so dangerous by the Apartheid government that he was imprisoned indefinitely and forbidden from speaking to anyone.
As well as sights we saw a lot of wildlife such as: African penguins, a tortoise, fallow deer and on our way back on the ferry a humpbacked whale.
After the bus tour we were taken around Robben Island's former prison for political prisoners. The tour guide had himself been imprisoned here charged with terrorism. The most interesting part was seeing the cell where Nelson Mandela spent eighteen years of his twenty-seven year prison sentence.