We can’t believe that the festive season is already upon us. As we all prepare to spend some quality time with our loved ones, may we use this opportunity to wish you a joyous, healthy and happy holiday season. The more we think about it, the more we realize that there are very few architectural and cultural heritage sites around that has the variety of unique cultural experiences the Castle of Good Hope offers.
Many cities like Beijing, Paris, London, Rio, Tokyo, Melbourne, Singapore, Brussels offer what we have but theirs’ are often dispersed or pricey. From the best-preserved 17th century Dutch fort in the world, to larger-than-life statues of indigenous royal warriors to the firing of small but ear-splitting signal cannon to a recreated 17th century military drill; it feels like our Castle is a mall of heritage experiences under one roof!
- A unique torture chamber/interrogation room, recently upgraded to create an even more authentic experience;
- The statues of the Khoi freedom-fighter Nommoä (Doman) next to those of warrior kings Langalibalele, Cetshwayo and Sekhukhune;
- A museum collection of 17th century art, craft and furniture (William Fehr);
- A separate ceramic art museum where the original lions that use to protect the main entrance, are on display;
- The Lady Anne Ballroom and the Dolphin Pool where she supposedly bathed in the nude!
- A memorial dedicated to the life of Khoi princess Krotoa (Eva);
- A restitution garden with indigenous plants (and where I spent some time reading and reflecting); and
- A third museum, depicting the Military History of South Africa. This is also where the original, sea-ward facing entrance of the Castle used to be.
THE PEOPLE’S CASTLE
So, with your heritage-conservation contribution of R50 (±3 Euros) we definitely make sure that you get lots of bang for your buck (pardon the pun) – something like seven for the price of one! Our advice is not to rush through this oldest colonial building in the country. If you want real value for money, take a couple of hours to soak up over 350 years of colonial history – good, bad and ugly!
We are deeply honoured to share our space with tourists, ad-hoc visitors, school children, researchers, musicians, movie-makers, party-revelers, Khoi-chiefs, traditional leaders, actors and the like. Yes, do not be surprised if you bump into a certain Ms Julia Roberts or Mr Denzel Washington, some of the many Hollywood stars who recently visited our shores.
We have developed a slogan that goes like this “Bringing the People to the Castle and taking the Castle to the People!” What underpins this slogan, is a sincere commitment to change the traditional image of the Castle (colonial oppression, pain, exclusion) into one that is inclusive, embracing, healing, educational and leading to nation-building and reconciliation. This is an on-going project that needs all of your support and commitment.
CASTLE OF EVENTS
It amazes us how the Castle has become a sought-after venue for life-style events. In the coming weeks, tourists and event goers will be treated with a host of exciting events. These include local youth music icon Nasty C, a Gaming Expo (Playtopia), the annual Cape Cultural Picnic and the Sizzled Summer Experience – to mention but a few. Our Castle is now really cooking up a storm!
You will notice from our gardening activities (or rather lack of it) that the Cape is still in the midst of a drought. Though the drought has been down-scaled to level 5, we are still not allowed to water our lawns, trees and other plants. As ardent gardeners, it pains us to see what is usually lush-green lawn is now appearing as a yellow-brown carpet. And the absence of summer flowers at the feet of this majestic, colonial building, is another pity. We kindly appeal to you to be understanding and supportive of our endeavours to preserve and protect this precious, life-giving resource – water.
Welcome to the Castle of Good Hope and enjoy your time with us…