De Tuynhuys (Garden House), Cape Town

De Tuynhuys (Garden House), Cape Town

If you are interested in architecture and history but don’t want to visit museums, then you will be happy just to photograph De Tuynhuys from the outside, as it houses the offices of the State President and is not open to the public.

It is rather hard to imagine, but in 1675 this building was a rather shabby tool-shed, owned by the Dutch East India Company. At the time there were few splendid buildings in the Cape Town area, which was a basic supply station for Dutch ships passing through the Cape of Good Hope on their way to the Far East and India.

In 1679, when Simon van der Stel was appointed as the Commander of this growing outpost, there was a bit of a panic about where to lodge him. As the tool shed was the only unoccupied building, it was hastily enlarged into a two-storey house with a flat roof and a large veranda.

By 1751 it had become the summer residence for succeeding governors and had been refurbished in Neo-classical style with sculptures of Mercury and Poseidon added – the former being the Roman god of trade and the latter the god of the sea – to enhance Dutch prowess at both trade and sailing. The beautiful front door was created by a slave carpenter, Rangton van Bali, whose excellent work later earned him his freedom.

In 1824 a lovely ballroom was added, but the building was damp and no longer habitable except during the driest months of the year. At the beginning of the 20th century the town council considered demolishing it, but as the house was linked to the city’s history, they couldn’t decide whether to knock it down or not.

In 1968 it was decided to restore the house and Gabriel Fagan was commissioned to carry out the necessary repairs. Using drawings that dated back to 1790, he began the work and during restoration, he uncovered the façade’s original stucco garlands, bas reliefs and floral decorations that you can photograph today.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Cape Town. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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De Tuynhuys (Garden House) on Map

Sight Name: De Tuynhuys (Garden House)
Sight Location: Cape Town, South Africa (See walking tours in Cape Town)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Cape Town, South Africa

Create Your Own Walk in Cape Town

Create Your Own Walk in Cape Town

Creating your own self-guided walk in Cape Town is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Houses Walking Tour

Historical Houses Walking Tour

When Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape Town in 1652, his mission was to establish here a supply station for the ships of the Dutch East India Company sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. The oldest buildings in today's Cape Town, dating from the second half of the 17th century, are the remnants of that era.

Garden House, originally a shabby tool shed owned by the Dutch East...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Cape Town Introduction Walking Tour

Cape Town Introduction Walking Tour

Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first mentioned the Cape of Storms in 1488, but it was soon renamed the Cape of Good Hope with an optimistic eye towards the trade routes it offered between Europe and the East.

In 1652, the Dutch East India Company settled a way-station here for ships traveling that route. Cape Town's natural harbor and strategic position made it the perfect location....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Cape Town Shopping Tour

Cape Town Shopping Tour

Cape Town is grand with quality shopping opportunities. Greenmarket Square, once the heart of Cape Town's business district – started off as a a slave market, then turned a cattle market – is just one of them. Today it houses South Africa's best flea market where one can find a broad selection of merchandise, from tribal costumes to precious jewelry and more.

Pan African Market is...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 Km or 0.2 Miles
Bo-Kaap Quarter Walking Tour

Bo-Kaap Quarter Walking Tour

Bo-Kaap is Afrikaans for "above the Cape." The Bo-Kaap District is above Cape Town's city center, on the slopes of Signal Hill. It is the historical center of Cape Malay culture. In the 1760s, Jan de Waal bought land here and built houses he rented to his slaves.

Slaves came from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Africa. Many of these slaves were Muslim, and this area...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles

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16 Distinctively South African Things to Buy in Cape Town

The many hopes pinned on this place (Cape of Good Hope) by passing-by sailors over the centuries must have done a good job for Cape Town, seeing it become a colorful cultural hub and prominent metropolis (3rd largest) in South Africa. Overlooking the meeting point of the two oceans (Indian and...