Cape Town, the mother city and oldest city in South Africa, is a beautiful place to visit remains one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world. It has the history, geography and culture that is simply hard to beat. Add to that the marvelous natural attractions like Table Mountain, The Peninsula, the two oceans, Robben Island and the excellent shopping, in world class malls, that makes it the envy of many other locations.
It should also be born in mind that the weak Rand offers the international tourist a most affordable vacation where most visitors cannot get over how inexpensive the fabulous restaurants are.
History - The arrival of the Dutch 1652
The area fell out of regular contact with Europeans until 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck and other employees of the Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or simply VOC) were sent to the Cape to establish a halfway station to provide fresh water, vegetables, and meat for passing ships travelling to and from Asia. Van Riebeeck's party of three vessels landed at the cape on 6 April 1652. The group quickly erected shelters and laid out vegetable gardens and orchards, and are preserved in the Company Gardens. Water from the Fresh River, which descended from Table Mountain, was channelled into canals to provide irrigation. The settlers bartered with the native Khoisan for their sheep and cattle. Forests in Hout Bay and the southern and eastern flanks of Table Mountain provided timber for ships and houses. At this point, the VOC had a monopoly on trade and prohibited any private trade. The Dutch gave their own names to the native inhabitants that they encountered, calling the pastoralists "Hottentots," those that lived on the coast and subsisted on shellfishing "Strandlopers," and those who were hunter-gatherers were named "Bushmen."
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Castle of Good Hope
The Castle of Good Hope has been the centre of life at the Cape since its inception in January 1666. It has survived many challenges in its time and was constantly under threat of being demolished for personal and materialistic gain. Sentiment in the early days whereby the then Imperial Government offered the Castle for sale for a mere £83.340, would seem to be nothing new and thanks to the military authorities they evoked a strong public reaction in favour of retaining the Castle of Good Hope.
The gateway – built in 1682 – replaced the old entrance, which faced the sea. The pediment bears the coat of arms of the United Netherlands, portraying the crowned lion rampant holding the seven arrows of unity in its paw. Carved on the architrave below are the arms of Van Hoorn, Delft , Amsterdam, Middelburg, Rotterdam and Enkhuizen—all Dutch cities in which the United East India Company had chambers. Two VOC (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie) monograms flank the carvings.
The two pilasters, entablature and pediment above are built of grey-blue stone, while the entrance is made of small yellow bricks called ijselstene, making it a unique example of 17th century Dutch classicism at the Cape . Sections of the moat, which previously formed part of the defence system of the Castle, were rebuilt in 1992 during restorations. The Castle of Good Hope would be referred to as 'Kui keip'(Stone Kraal) by the Khoina.
Protecting its interests against the British and French would obviously require soldiers and therefore a military presence. These soldiers served the Dutch East Indian Company and were remunerated for their services. This explains the military presence at the Castle of Good Hope until this day in terms of safeguarding of the facility, guard duties and military ceremonies.
Built by soldiers, sailors and slaves, the walls were clad in local stone. The Castle of Good Hope was to fulfill its role as a replenishment station of the Dutch East Indian Company and to protect its logistical and financial interests along the “spice route”.
One is taken back in History and life at the Cape of Good Hope. This is evident when one visits the William Fehr Collection and the Castle Military Museum.
The Castle of Good Hope was a welcome sight for sailors traveling up to six months at sea and referring to Cape Town as the "Tavern of the Seas".