Castle of Good Hope
The story of this Castle is a story of our young country. It is a story of joy, pain, tears, laughter, disappointment, fear, hope - and all the other human emotions that characterize us as a nation…
Built between 1666 and 1679, the Castle is known as the oldest surviving building in South Africa and has been the center of civilian, political and military life at the Cape from approximately 1679. In its current state the Castle arguably represents one of the best preserved 17th century DEIC architecture on the entire globe. The 2015 - 2016 renovation of the Castle - the first in 20 years - will further enhance its appeal and position it to become South Africa's next UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historical building now houses, among others, the William Fehr Collection, an African pottery collection, the Castle Military Museum and a forge.
In 1664 with renewed rumours of war between Britain and the Netherlands, the Lords Seventeen instructed Zacharias Wagenaer, the Dutch Commissioner, to build a five-pointed stone Castle similar to other such fortifications in Europe and the East. The Castle was planned around a central point - a water-well under the "Boog" - with five bulwarks known as bastions.
The foundations were dug in 1665 and the cornerstones of the first bastion, later known as the Leerdam Bastion, were laid on the 2nd January 1666 after which building started in all earnest. Three hundred sailors commandeered from passing ships, soldiers, local Khoikhoi, women and slaves were used as workforce, breaking stone and collecting shell, which was burned in lime ovens. One often wonders what the real human cost was of building this European fortress on African soil.
For more on this story go to www.castleofgoodhope.co.za