Castle of Good Hope
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The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building still in regular use in South Africa.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building still in use in South Africa.
Shortly after Jan van Riebeeck arrived in 1652 he built an earthen-walled fort near the shore in the vicinity of what is now Cape Town's Grand Parade. But this was inadequate to protect the passage to India and the Dutch East India Company commissioned Dutch architect Menno van Coehoorn to design a large stone castle.
A site was chosen and cleared in 1665, and construction under the supervision of engineer Pieter Dombaer commenced on 2 January 1666. Even though the Castle of Good Hope was only completed in 1679, the garrison took occupation in 1674.
The Castle of Good Hope fort is designed in the shape of a pentagon with bastions dedicated to the titles of the Prince of Orange at each point. These were connected by thick stone walls which were lined on the inside with residences, government offices, storerooms and stables.
Planned to resemble the brick-and-stone town entrances common in Holland, it was topped by a belfry in 1682. A few years later the internal courtyard was divided in two by a defensive wall. On either side were built the official quarters of the governor and senior staff as well as a great hall with an ornamental balcony from where official proclamations were read out.
It is the best preserved of all the Dutch East India Company castles and it was declared a national monument in 1936. It was extensively renovated during the 1980s and today is the Western Cape headquarters of the South African National Defence Force.
It is open to visitors and contains various exhibits, including the Castle Military Museum. There is also the William Fehr collection of artworks depicting early life at the Cape. The Castle can also be booked for private functions and conferences.
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Who to contact
For enquiries contact the Castle of Good Hope on +27 (0) 21 787 1260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org