Cape Town Heritage Walk

Cape Town Heritage Walk, Cape Town, South Africa (A)

Cape Town is the place where Europeans first settled in South Africa. The Dutch Jan van Riebeeck arrived on the 6th April 1652 not to establish a colony, but a base to provide passing ships with fresh supplies. Since, its fascinating history was shaped by maritime trade, colonialism, cultural mixing, oppression, hope and freedom. This walking tour shows you some of its rich and colourful heritage.
Image Courtesy of Louise de Waal.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Cape Town Heritage Walk
Guide Location: South Africa » Cape Town
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: Paul Giess
Author Bio: This is a team effort of Uluntu Africa, a small sustainable travel company based in Cape Town. We are passionate about South Africa, responsible tourism and in particular our beautiful Mother City. The team consists of Liesel Smith (South African), Louise de Waal (Dutch) and Paul Giess (British), who both relocated to Cape Town 3 years ago. We are great believers of immersing oneself in local culture while travelling, so enjoy Cape Town’s Heritage!
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Castle of Good Hope
  • District Six Museum
  • Iziko Slave Lodge
  • South African Museum
  • The Mannenberg Memorial
  • Bo-Kaap Museum
Castle of Good Hope

1) Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope, built between 1666 and 1679, replaced the older Fort de Goede Hoop that was constructed of clay and timber by Jan van Riebeeck upon his arrival at the Cape in 1652. The main purpose of building the Fort and later the Castle was to provide the Dutch East India Company (VOC) with a maritime replenishment station. From 1678, the Castle also served as the centre of civilian, administrative and military life in the Cape and housed amongst others a church, bakery, various workshops, living quarters, shops and cells. However the settlement grew rapidly and some functions and activities slowly moved away from the Castle. Today the Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape and is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.

There are various points of interest within the Castle walls, including the Castle Military Museum with a most impressive sword collection and Iziko Museum of Cape Town (William Fehr Collection), a collection of historical paintings and period furniture relevant to the Cape, and the Castle Forge.

General Information

The Castle is open daily between 09.00-16.00 hrs. Guided tours are conducted Monday to Saturday at 11.00, 12.00 and 14.00 hrs. The Castle is closed on 1 January & 25 December.

Entry is R25 for adults and R10 for children & students and includes the guided tour.

Key Ceremony is weekdays at 10.00 and 12.00 hrs followed by the firing of the Signal Cannon.
District Six Museum

2) District Six Museum

In 1867, District Six was called the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town and originally established as a community of freed slaves, merchants, crafts people, labourers and immigrants. It was a vibrant centre with close links to the rest of the city and its port. In the early 1900s, the history of Apartheid and marginalisation had truly started for District Six and the first to be forcibly displaced were black South Africans in 1901. Its more prosperous inhabitants moved into Cape Town's suburbs and slowly the area became neglected and rundown. District Six was declared under the Group Areas Act of 1950 as a white only area in 1966. Sixteen years later, the 60,000 people still living in District Six were also moved against their will to the Cape Flats and their houses were demolished by bulldozers.

The District Six Museum uses the memories of these experiences and the history of forced removals in general and has shown numerous exhibitions involving a multitude of talented individuals. The current exhibition, Digging Deeper, is a permanent one visually documenting the various aspects of life in District Six.

General Information

District Six Museum is open Monday between 09.00-14.00 hrs, Tuesday to Saturday 09.00-16.00 hrs and Sundays are by appointment only. The Museum is closed Christmas, New Year and Good Friday.

Entry is R30 for adults and includes the guided tour (please note advanced booking is necessary).

Flash photography is NOT allowed inside the museum.
Iziko Slave Lodge

3) Iziko Slave Lodge

The Slave Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town, has a long and rich history. In 1679 it was built as the slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company and housed up to 9,000 slaves, convicts and mentally ill until 1811. It then changed to house governmental offices, such as the Governor's Advisory Council, Cape Supreme Court, first library & post office, and Deeds Office. In 1966, after several years of careful restoration, it changed its function once again and became SA Cultural History Museum.

Today, the Slave Lodge is in the process of changing its focus to a specialist museum of slavery with permanent exhibitions on family roots, ancestry and the people of South Africa and thus increasing awareness on issues such as human rights, equality, peace and justice. The Slavery at the Cape information centre has already been finished.

Some of its existing permanent exhibitions include the ceramics gallery with both historical as well as contemporary works, the silver gallery with a range of domestic and commemorative objects of Cape, English, Malaysian and Russian origin.

General Information

The Slave Lodge is open Monday to Saturday between 10.00-17.00 hrs. The Lodge is closed on Sundays, 1 May and 25 December.

Entry is R15 for visitors 16 years and older, free entry on selected commemorative days and free for under 16 year olds. Audio tours are available for R20.

Disabled access available.
South African Museum

4) South African Museum

The South African Museum was established in 1825 by Lord Charles Somerset and, after the Royal Observatory established in 1820, is the country's oldest scientific institute. Today, SAM is highly respected as a leading research and educational institution. Its substantial collections of objects on natural history and anthropology document all forms of Southern African life (living and extinct) and the cultural heritage of its indigenous populations back to their earliest origins.

Just to give you an idea of the type of natural and social history exhibitions you can expect to find in SAM, some of its past, current and permanent exhibitions include African Dinosaurs (permanent), Wonders of Nature, Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo, Our Place in the Universe, Virtual Earth, Darwin and the Cape, and Beads: Ritual and Ornamentation.

The SAM also houses a planetarium, where the night sky can be recreated inside the domed auditorium, providing an extraordinary audio-visual experience for old and young. Please note that Planetarium entry fees are separate and shows are limited to one or two per day.

General Information

The South African Museum is open daily between 10.00-17.00 hrs. The Museum is closed on 1 May and 25 December.

Entry is R15 for visitors 16 years and older, free entry on selected commemorative days and free for under 16 year olds.

Disabled access available.
The Mannenberg Memorial

5) The Mannenberg Memorial

The Mannenberg Memorial on Bloem Street remembers the famous song by Abdullah Ibrahim called Mannenberg.

In June 1974, Abdullah Ibrahim, together with Robbie Jansen, Basil Coetzee, Monty Weber, Morris Goldberg and Paul Michaels, were recording here at the old UCA recording studio. In a moment of inspiration Mannenberg was created and the song recorded while forced removals and evictions of coloured families from their homes was happening throughout the city, as the Apartheid government finalised its destruction of District Six. The track fused Cape jazz with African marabi to create a tune that became a popular anthem of hope and resistance for many South Africans.

In the 1980s, Mannenberg once again became an icon in the struggle against Apartheid and acquired a new meaning. This time through the efforts of musicians, such as Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, who made it the musical focus of numerous anti-Apartheid demonstrations and concerts.

Re-live this legendary jazz anthem by running your fingers along the tubes of this musical memorial created by artists Mark O'Donovan and Francois Venter.

Watch a YouTube video of Mannenberg on

General Information

The Mannenberg Memorial can be found on the outside wall of 21 Bloem Street and is 'open' for viewing 24/7. Entry is free.
Bo-Kaap Museum

6) Bo-Kaap Museum

The Bo-Kaap Museum is located in the historic Cape Town area that became home to many Muslim people and freed slaves after the abolition of slavery. Although the area has been home to people of various origins and religions, it remained closely associated with Cape Town's Muslim community. Its history typically reflects the political processes under Apartheid years. For example, it was declared an exclusive residential area for Cape Muslims under the Group Areas Act of 1950 and people of different cultural backgrounds and faith were forced to leave. Strangely enough however, it remained one of the few city centre locations with a predominantly working class population, as under the Slum Clearance Act most working class people were moved to the periphery of South Africa's cities.

Established in 1978, the Bo-Kaap Museum showcases local Islamic culture and heritage, as a furnished house that represents every day life of 19th Century Muslim families. However, the museum is currently in a transformation stage and aims to change into a social history museum depicting the story of its local community within a national socio-political and cultural context.

General Information

The Bo-Kaap Museum is open Monday to Saturday between 10.00-17.00 hrs. The Museum is closed on Sundays, 1 May, 25 December, 1 & 2 January, and Muslim holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

Entry is R10 for visitors 16 years and older, free entry on selected commemorative days and free for under 16 year olds.

Disabled access available.

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.
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
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
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 Shopping Tour

Cape Town Shopping Tour

Cape Town is grand with quality shopping. The available options here, such as South Africa's top flea market where you can find a wealth of merchandise, from tribal costumes to precious jewelry, offer a colorful experience for both locals and tourists.

Among the standout locations in Cape Town that shoppers particularly love to explore is Adderley Street. This bustling thoroughfare is...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.4 Km or 0.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

16 Distinctively South African Things to Buy in Cape Town

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...