Choose your country and language:

Africa

  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Americas

  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Europe

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Back

OOn the slopes of Table Mountain above the suburb of Rondebosch, sits an old white house with an eclectic mix of pillars, barley-sugar turrets, and wrap around verandas. It began life as part of the Dutch East India Company’s grain storage system, hence its name, Groote Schuur, which translated means Big Barn. By the late 1800’s it fell to ruins, and was bought by Cecil John Rhodes to be used as his personal home.

Rhodes hired a young and unknown architect called Herbert Baker to turn the slightly dilapidated building into a functional residence. When the house was completed it had a warm Rhodesian teak interior, white washed walls, colonnaded gables and typical Cape charm. The gardens were a riot of colour with plumbagoes, hydrangeas, roses and fuchsias. People would picnic on the lawns on weekends, and grand parties were thrown in the evenings with the likes of Rudyard Kipling and the Duke of Westminster in attendance.

Did You Know?
TThe original house building which made up Groote Schuur was built in 1657 and almost destroyed in a fire in 1896.

FFor years the house was used as the main home of the Prime Minister of South Africa, with a number of infamous faces taking up residence there. The last Prime Minister to live there was FW De Klerk, who was instrumental in setting the ball rolling for the country’s eventual freedom.

Groote Schuur Building

Food
When to visit
How to get here

OOn the 4th of May 1990, then President FW De Klerk and Nelson Mandela sat down at Groote Schuur to begin talks on how to disassemble apartheid. The ANC was at the time still banned, although one of the outcomes of the talks as Groote Schuur was to unban ANC cadres and other anti-apartheid activists. At the Mandela Minute talks, it was decided that political prisoners would go free, political exiles would be allowed to return, and the nation-wide State of Emergency which was in effect would be gradually lifted. These were the beginnings of a democratically free South Africa.

The building sits on the same piece of land which houses both the Rhodes Memorial and UCT. One can now visit it as a museum with prior arrangement. When Mandela took over presidency of the country, he used the nearby Westbrook as his residence, making Groote Schuur more of a monument.

TThe house remains very much unchanged today with its great stone bath carved from a single piece of Paarl granite still in the grand bathroom. Many of the interesting antiques and books which have been added to the house’s collections over the years are still in pristine condition. Walking through the now quiet passages and rooms one can imagine all the things the house has seen.

Related Articles

Vibrant culture

Xhosa culture: the clans and customs

Vibrant culture
Xhosa culture: the clans and customs

The AmaXhosa are part of three nations known as Nguni that are found in South Africa. The other two are AmaSwazi and AmaZulu.  The AmaXhosa settled in the Eastern Cape and over time spread to the Western Cape.

Vibrant culture

Cape Malay cuisine: food that feeds the soul

Vibrant culture
Cape Malay cuisine: food that feeds the soul

A food group born from the souls of slaves, in its heart, one motto: make sure our people are fed.

Vibrant culture

Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture
Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture

African ancestors

Vibrant culture
African ancestors

African ancestors continue to give Africans a shared and personal sense of self-affirmation, identity and unfettered belonging.

Vibrant culture

Zulu cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture
Zulu cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Zulu cuisine is still very much influenced by tradition and its celebration of history and a commitment to culture.

Vibrant culture

The colour of Cape Malay culture

Vibrant culture
The colour of Cape Malay culture

The Cape Malay community has contributed to the vast tapestry of South African traditions.

Vibrant culture

Traditional African food in South Africa

Vibrant culture
Traditional African food in South Africa

The food story of South Africa.

Vibrant culture

The culture of Basotho: history, people, clothing and food

Vibrant culture
The culture of Basotho: history, people, clothing and food

As a nation that boasts about its rich culture, the Basotho can trace their origins to the pre-historic age.

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2018 South African Tourism
|Terms and conditions|Disclaimer|Privacy policy