In celebration of South Africa’s Heritage Day on 24 September, the Concierge team at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, has put together the Cape Town Big 5 Heritage Route for guests and visitors to experience the important, interesting history and culture of the amazing Mother City.
Robben Island Museum
Robben Island is a ‘must do’ for your first visit to Cape Town and will likely be the highlight of your trip. Once a prison for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela, the island has a fascinating history including being used as a prison, hospital, mental institution and military base. Today, it is a World Heritage Site, a South African National Monument, a National Museum and a Natural Heritage Site.
Allow 3½ hours for this tour including the ferry rides to and from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront.
Nelson Mandela Gateway, V&A Waterfront | T: +27 (0)21 413 4200
Castle of Good Hope
Visit the oldest building in South Africa, the Castle of Good Hope, which was built as a ‘star fort’ between 1666 and 1679 by Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company to be used as a maritime replenishment station.
Interestingly enough, even though the castle is now located in the heart of the city centre, its position used to indicate the original shoreline and the entrance of the fort had to be moved due to waves that used to hit the doors!
Try to include these daily rituals into your tour:
- Key ceremony: Monday – Friday (10h00 & 12h00)
- Firing of signal cannon: Monday – Friday (10h10 and 12h10) and Saturday (11h00 and 12h00)
Buitenkant Street, opposite the Grand Parade | T: +27 (0)21 787 1260
District Six Museum
District Six was once a lively neighbourhood and home to a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants with links to the city and the port. In 1966 South Africa’s apartheid government declared District Six a ‘whites only’ area and had more than 60 000 people of colour forcibly relocated to what is now known as the Cape Flats and all the houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers.
Take a guided tour and visit the District Six Museum to learn about the removal and resettlement of the original residents of the area.
25A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town | T: +27 (0)21 466 7200
Also known as the Cape Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is renowned for its brightly coloured Georgian terrace houses and narrow cobbled streets and is the heart of the Cape’s Muslim community. Most of the residents are descendants of slaves (known as Cape Malays) who were brought to the Cape of Good Hope in the 16th and 17th centuries from Malaysia, Indonesia and other African countries.
You will also find Cape Town’s first official mosque which was founded in 1797 in the area but a must-do on your visit is to have a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the restaurants in the area to experience the spices and recipes which date back centuries.
Visit the museum to discover more about the rich heritage and history of the area.
71 Wale Street, Cape Town | T: +27 (0)21 481 3938
The Slave Lodge
To end off the Cape Town Big 5 Cultural Tour, visit The Slave Lodge which is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town and has a very long history including that of government offices, old Supreme Court and the SA Cultural History Museum. The museum was re-named to The Slave Lodge in 1998.
Exhibitions explore the long history of slavery and human rights in South Africa.
It is recommended that this itinerary is split over a few days to fully appreciate each stop along the way. All tours and visits can be arranged by the Concierge at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.
Corner Adderley and Wale Streets, Cape Town | T: +27 (0)21 467 7229