Aerial view of the Castle in Cape Town, South Africa. It was built by the Dutch who settled the Cape in the mid 17th century.
Eric Nathan/age fotostock
Fearing a British takeover of its ill-gotten trading post, the Dutch East India Company built this star-shaped castle (known as Kasteel de Goede Hoop) between 1666 and 1679 to defend its territory. Now the oldest building in South Africa, the castle served as the center of Cape Town‘s civilian, political, and military life. The austere facade opens up to a striking central lawn and commanding buildings that, in their restored form, represent Dutch, English, and French architectural styles. History buffs will go nuts here: Check out the William Fehr Collection, the African pottery exhibit, and the Castle Military Museum.
Exploring the Oldest Building in South Africa
When you take the MetroRail into the heart of Cape Town, just before you reach the station you can notice the sharp, granite corners of the Castle of Good Hope. This historic fortress, built in the late 1600’s, was originally a storage facility and fortress for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Now, it serves as a museum of the Cape’s military history and is Cape Town’s oldest building. Once inside, you’re free to explore the facility on your own, or, you can join a guided tour. I did a little of both, dropping out of the guided tour to wander on my own near the end. One small highlight is De Goewerneur Restaurant, a small cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the quiet courtyard and governor’s residence.