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Castle of Good Hope

South Africa's oldest surviving colonial building, the Castle of Good Hope was completed in 1679 (replacing an earlier mud and timber fort built by the first Dutch Governor, Jan van Riebeeck). Situated adjacent to a parking lot and bus station in Buitenkant Street, its walls mark the original boundary of the seashore where the waves washed up against the fortifications. Its outside aspect is somewhat foreboding, but inside are some interesting features and collections that have been restored, offering a good insight into the early days of the Cape when the castle was the centre of social and economic life. The complex is a pentagonal fortification with a moat and five bastions, each named for one of the titles of the Prince of Orange. The entrance is a good example of 17th-century Dutch Classicism, and a bell, cast in 1679 by Claude Fremy in Amsterdam, still hangs from the original wood beams in the tower above the entrance. The castle contains a Military Museum depicting the conflicts that arose during the Cape's early settlement, and also houses the William Fehr Collection of decorative arts, including paintings, furniture and porcelain. Of interest are the dungeons, which bear the graffiti carved by prisoners incarcerated here centuries ago. This castle was built for defense, not beauty, and it is a fortress not a palace. Those interested in the history of the Cape will find a visit fascinating.

Address: Buitenkant Street, opposite the Grand Parade

Website: www.castleofgoodhope.co.za

Telephone: 021 787 1260

Opening times: Daily 9am to 4pm, with tours at 11am, 12pm and 2pm from Monday to Saturday. Self guided tours are possible with the aid of a map, provided by the Castle

Admission: R30 (adults), R15 (children and students). Concessions available.