Castle of Good Hope

Tavern Of The Seas

The Castle of Good Hope is located in the "Tavern of the Seas" (the name the sailors used for Cape Town) in the Foreshore area of Cape Town next to the  Grand Parade and the City Hall. It was built in 1666 and is the oldest building in South Africa. It has been meticulously restored and used for various purposes over the years. Its original function was as a replenishment station for sailors who travelled half way around the world on the Spice Route and later it was used as a fortress to protect the Cape from invasion from other countries. The Castle of Good Hope was built close to the sea but land reclamation took place and now the castle is a distance away. The castle is today an ideal location for conference venues where the guests have the most magnificent views of Cape Town and Table Mountain. There are guided tours of the castle and the museum every day except Sundays. 

Mission Statement

The Castle of Good Hope is a service orientated public entity, striving to optimize its tourism potential and accessibility to the public and to preserve and protect its cultural and military heritage.


Castle Military Museum 

The museum was officially opened in 1995 and is the custodian of Cape Military history including a remarkable collection of swords. The entrance to the museum was originally the main entrance of the castle. The Museum showcases military history with a vast collection of exhibits:

  • Displays of the Anglo-Boer War and the Eastern Cape Frontier War
  • Exhibits of military involvement of the Khoi, Portuguese, Dutch and English between the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Sword collection of note
  • Cape Town Military Tattoo - Every year the Castle Military Museum hosts the Military Tattoo which is a military show of a high standard. It consists of a succession of short (9 minute) fast moving acts of musical and non-musical nature. The Tattoo is produced by the South African National Defence Force, including reservists. The aim is to make this annual event a big tourist attraction and much work is put into the project to achieve this end.

Curio shop

Castle memorabilia and publications can be bought at this shop.


The castle has two dungeons.


The forge continues to be operational and produces door-handles, nuts, bolts, ship’s nails and weapons.

Iziko William Fehr Collection

National art and military treasures have been housed in the castle for nearly 50 years.The collections depict the life and tradition of the residents who worked and lived in the Cape from aristocracy to slaves:

  • Fine arts
  • Decorative
  • Fine furniture
  • Graphics
  • Silver
  • Glass

Key Ceremony

This ceremony takes place from Monday to Friday and is followed by the firing of the Signal Cannon. It has been performed since the castle’s inception and is the ceremonial unlocking of the Castle. The Castle guard is responsible for the key ceremony and the firing of the cannon. 


  • British Officer’s Mess and Good Hope Gallery
  • Lady Anne Banwueting room and Basques de Chavonnes
  • Study Centre and court yard


  • Guided Tours
  • Horse and carriage rides
  • de Goewerneur Restaurant


The Castle of Good Hope is a pentagonal fortress built of stone with five bastions and a moat. Grey–blue stone was used for the pilasters the entablature and the pediments. The entrance was made of yellow bricks called “ijselstene” making it a fine example of Dutch classicism architecture of the Cape and was built by soldiers, volunteers and slaves. A gateway was built at a later stage and the pediment is decorated with the coat of arms of the United Netherlands in the form of the crowned lion rampant holding the seven arrows of unity in its paw.


  • Nasau to the west
  • Leedam to the west
  • Buuren
  • Katzenellenbogen
  • Orange

At the entrance on the architrave is carved coat of arms of the cities where the Dutch East India Company had chambers, namely Amsterdam, Delft, Ekhuizen, Middelburg, Rotterdam, Van Hoorn.


The Castle of Good Hope was built to serve as a halfway house for the sailors who sailed half way around the world on the spice route and was later used to protect the Cape from the British and French. The castle has always been associated with the military and today it is the seat of the military in the Cape. To this day the military’s presence is necessary to protect this national treasure. At one stage in its history the Castle was offered for sale for £ 83 340 but the military evoked the sentiments of the public and it was saved from destruction.

1666 - The Castle was built as a maritime replenishing station for sailors on the spice route and was built by the East India Company.

1679 – The five Bastions were named after the main title of William of Orange-Nassau.

1682 – The gateway was built in front of the entrance that was facing the sea.

1939 – The castle was declared a historical monument and is now a Provincial Heritage Site.


  • Monday to Friday, 09h00 - 16h00
  • Weekends, 10h00 - 17h00
  • Closed, Christmas and New Year's Day

  • Key Ceremony

  • Monday to Friday,10h00 - 12h00

  • Signal Cannon Firing

  • Monday to Friday,10h00 - 12h00
  • Saturday,11h00 - 12h00

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