For anyone coming to Cape Town I would recommend a visit to the Castle of Good Hope on the front end of your holiday. We ended up doing it on the back-end but I think it would have been even more impactful if we had done it on the front end. It’s a very informative tour that explains the powerful history of Cape Town.
The Dutch East India Company originally built the castle as a replenishment station for the long treacherous sea trips from Europe to the East. (If you remember from my last blog, wine was served…this replenishment or supply station is now modern-day Cape Town today.) It was built between 1666 and 1679 and during that process they made the decision to build a more fortified fortress foreseeing a possible conflict between them (Dutch settlers or Boers) and the British. It is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa. Surprisingly it never needed to be defended as no conflicts ever took place there. I could have stayed there for hours checking out the exhibits and reading all the historical data. Quite interesting was the data regarding the Second Anglo Boer War that took place between 1899 and 1902. Only 87,000 Boers, all unpaid volunteers, took on 450,000 trained British soldiers. At that time the British were a colonizing country that looked to conquer other, mostly third world, nations to help manage their natural resources. The British adopted a “scorched earth” policy and destroyed over 30,000 Boer farmhouses, several towns and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of livestock. Of the casualties over 26,000 Boer women and children died in concentration camps. Over 75,000 lives were lost before the British finally won the war.
It was about a 45-minute guided tour and then you are allowed to walk around freely to check out the Castle Military museum and the Iziko Museum. If you plan it right you can see the military ceremony performed by a traditional Cape Regiment at noon and watch them fire off a small but very powerful cannon.