The Castle of Good Hope is a great attraction in central Cape Town. A guided tour really brings it to life, and the views from the castle roof are spectacular.
The Castle of Good Hope is in central Cape Town (see on Google Maps). It’s within walking distance of most of the other attractions and museums in central Cape Town. Parking is available on the surrounding streets or in the various multi-storey car parks nearby.
The Castle of Good Hope is a star-shaped fortress painted bright yellow, and the oldest colonial building in South Africa. The surrounding moat is lovely, covered in reeds with a grassy bank. The inside is very peaceful, an oasis of calm in the bustling central area of Cape Town. You’re free to wander around yourself or take a guided tour, which I would recommend.
Events Throughout the Day
Daily events at the castle include a Key Ceremony, Cannon Firing (not Sundays) and Guided Tours. These events are all included with the admission fee (R50/25 adults/reduced).
Key Ceremony at 10am and 12am: watch the ceremonial unlocking of one of the entrance gates to the castle.
Cannon Firing at 10am, 11am and 12am (not on Sundays): see one of the old cannons being fired.
Guided Tours at 11am, 12am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm: be led around the castle by a guide to learn interesting facts and castle secrets, lasts about 1 hour.
On a Guided Tour of the Castle of Good Hope
We went on a fantastic guided tour of the castle. It really brought the place to life and our guide was excellent, combining humour with information. Our guide was super funny and very knowledgeable.
Our guide showed us all around the castle, up onto the roof where there are great views of Table Mountain, and through all the old courtyards. The castle contains three little museums/collections (see below) which we visited on this tour, but we came back later to explore these collections further.
History of the Castle of Good Hope
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) built the Castle of Good Hope in 1666-1679. They feared an attack by the British (who envied the Dutch trading post here) and used the castle as a fortress and store of valuable goods. When the castle was built, it occupied a spot on the edge of the ocean. It’s hard to imagine today as land reclamation projects mean it’s now 1 km from the shore.
The Dutch base expanded and they started trading with the locals (often forcibly) and soon settlers arrived to live here permanently. This Castle was the nerve centre of the early Cape Town settlement and the base for the military and Cape Governors.
There are three small collections within the caste, all displayed in different areas. Entrance is included with the castle admission fee.
- The Castle Military Museum describes the military and political history of the Cape, with a large collection of swords.
- FIRED exhibits African pottery housed in the old granary of the castle.
- The William Fehr Collection displays household objects mainly from the 17th to 19th centuries. It includes an interesting collection of oil paintings that show early Cape Town through the lens/paint of a colonial artist.
Refreshments at the Castle
The Re5 Cafe, in the first courtyard of the castle, serves hot and cold drinks, light lunches and local snacks. There’s both an inside area and a pleasant sheltered area just outside to sit in while admiring the brilliant yellow walls of the castle.
There’s also a nice gift shop by the cafe which supports local artists.
Why not find more things to do in South Africa!