South African historical museums
Historical museums in South Africa dig deep into the past, from a time before modern humans, to an exploration of early indigenous groups, through the Stone and Iron Ages, into the colonial period. More recently, a spate of institutions commemorating the freedom struggle have been opened across the country - in Johannesburg, Soweto, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Mthata.
South African historical museums pursue themes of evolution, natural history, military conflict, cultural history and lifestyles specific to certain periods. In the Cape, Iziko Museums, a group of 13 museums, is prominent, while in Gauteng, the Northern Flagship Institution manages 8 institutions with varied themes.
South Africa's oldest historical museum, the South African Museum in Cape Town, is also the continent's oldest. The oldest building in the country, the Castle of Good Hope, which was once a fort, functions as a museum as well as the Western Cape headquarters of the South African National Defence Force. Still on a military note, the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg covers every conflict the country has ever been involved in. One of those conflicts, the cataclysmic Anglo-Boer War, is examined at the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein.
A 'must-see' on the freedom struggle trail is the Robben Island Prison Museum, a 20-minute ferry ride from Cape Town. If you are travelling along the Wild Coast with its spectacular beaches, the Nelson Mandela National Museum, a 3-point rural circuit in the Eastern Cape, makes an interesting stop.