The Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is known locally as “The Castle”. Its Dutch name is “Kasteel de Goede Hoop” and is a bastion fort built in the 17th century in Cape Town, South Africa. The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town is the oldest building in South Africa. The Dutch built it as a supply station and military fortress in the 1600s. The Castle was originally located on the coastline of Table Bay. But following reclamation, the fort is now located a short distance inland within the Central Business District. The Castle was declared a historical monument (now a provincial heritage site) in 1936. Following restoration work in the 1980s, it is considered the best preserved example of a 17th century architectural structure in the entire world.

Ossewa, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Built by the Dutch East India Company in the mid-1600s. The bastion-style fort is now a historical monument in Cape Town and a local hotbed for paranormal activity. The castle is said to contain the ghost of violent ruler Governor van Noodt. Who supposedly died of a heart attack while ordering a hanging. The common tale is that one of the men cursed the governor before being executed. Rumors say this sealed his soul to the castle forever.

In the 1660s there were rumors of a war between England and the Netherlands. To prepare themselves, the Dutch built a new castle of stone between 1666 and 1679. The work was done by soldiers, sailors, and slaves. Much of the stone came from Signal Hill, near the Dutch settlement.

The Castle of Good Hope in 1680

In 1682 the gated entry replaced the old entrance, which had faced the sea. A bell tower, situated over the main entrance, was built in 1684. The original bell, the oldest in South Africa, was cast in Amsterdam in 1697 and weighs just over 300 kilograms (660lb). It was used to announce the time, as well as warning citizens in case of danger. It could be heard 10 kilometers away. The bell was rung to summon residents and soldiers when important announcements needed to be made.

The Castle acted as local headquarters for the South African Army in the Western Cape, and today houses the Castle Military Museum and ceremonial facilities for the traditional Cape Regiments. The Castle is also the home of the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment, a mechanized infantry unit.

Ghost Stories

The Castle is on Cape Town’s ghost route – the buildings believed to be haunted, which people can visit to see for themselves if they dare.

Eerie stories have been told of footsteps pacing along the battlements between the two bastions of Leerdam and Buren; after World War Two, these inexplicable sounds were accompanied by a floating human shape without legs.

It is said this ghost could be that of a soldier who hanged himself in the bell tower 300 years ago. There is also the ghost of a sad-faced woman, wearing a long, grey cloak, who walks through the Castle at night. Then there is the ghost who loves to join parties. It is said it could be Lady Anne Barnard, who lived at the Castle for five years from 1797 while her husband was colonial secretary.

Her ghost has been seen at functions in the ballroom, clothed in a ballgown of that era. Guards and staff at the Castle insist there is more to the Castle ghosts than just “ghost” stories. “One night a guard heard someone screaming for help and voices coming from the dungeon and torture chamber.” When he went to investigate, there was no one there. But he felt a presence; his body became ice cold and the hair stood up on his arms and at the back of his neck.”

Over Night Stay

In 1952, a couple were granted permission to spend a night in the Castle during the Van Riebeeck Festival. During the night, they woke up to find a lance corporal waking up the soldiers. When they asked what he was doing, he said the bus drivers and bus conductors were protesting and rioting in the city streets.

The next day, when the couple tried to find out about the incident, there was nothing in the newspapers. They asked the staff what had happened during the night but no one knew what they were talking about.

Ashley Frantz, a tour guide and guard at the Castle, said when he first did the ghost shift in the 1990s. It was pitch dark when he was walking through the archway near the Donker Gat dungeon late at night. A strange feeling came over him and he saw someone waving at him.

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