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Interesting Facts

Castle of Good hope.jfif

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest colonial building in South Africa

Built in the 17th century, it has the distinctive shape of a pentagon. It was completed in 1679 as a bastion fort to protect the city from intruders by sea. The position of the castle used to be on the original shoreline, but is now more inland due to the Foreshore Plan to claim land from the ocean. This is also why the Castle of Good Hope is located on Strand Street. (Strand means beach in Afrikaans, or Dutch)

The first wine in The Cape Winelands was produced in 1659

The origins of the Cape Winelands dates back to the Dutch settlers. Among other things, and due to the favourable climate, Jan Van Riebeeck was also tasked with planting vineyards in Cape Town to produce wine and table grapes for passing sailors as a means to help ward off scurvy. The South African wine industry has since grown into one of the most well known in the world. It is also the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and has one of the longest wine routes in the world. Starting just outside of Cape Town, Route 62 runs for 850km and ends in Port Elizabeth.


Robben Island was not always a prisoners island

Robben Island is located 11 kilometres from the shores of Cape Town in Table Bay. It was named Robben Island (Afrikaans for seal island) after the huge colonies of seals found there. It became world famous during Apartheid when former South African president Nelson Mandela was jailed there for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. During the 19th century, the island was used as a leper colony and animal shelter station. Today, Robben Island is a museum in remembrance of the atrocities of Apartheid. It is also a conservation area to protect local bird and marine life.

Cape Town is also known as ‘The Mother City’

Founded in 1652 by Jan Van Riebeeck as a place for The Dutch East India Company to grow fresh produce for passing ships, Cape Town is also affectionately known as ‘The Mother City’ as it was the first established European settlement in South Africa. A very common running joke however is that Cape Town is a very laidback city (that part is true) and it takes 9 months to get anything done (this is debatable though).

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