Did you know that Jan Van Riebeeck was the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, as well as a surgeon and that he worked in Tonkin, Vietnam, before he was appointed as Commander of the replenishment station that he had to establish at the Cape?

Did you know that Jan Van Riebeeck also visited Japan?

Did you know that Jan Van Riebeeck's party did not arrive at the Cape in three ships, but in five? The first three were the Reijger, Dromedaris, and the commanding ship, Goede Hoop. The other two arrived later and were the Walvisch and the Oliphant.

Did you know that the bastion's of Jan Van Riebeeck's fort were named after some of the ships that brought him and the rest of his party to the Cape, namely the Dromedaris, Walvisch, Oliphant and Reijger?

Did you know that Van Riebeeck stayed at the Cape for ten years and left in 1662?

Did you know that the image of Jan Van Riebeeck, which appeared on the earlier South African banknotes, apparently was not the image of Jan van Riebeeck, but the image of one Bartholomeus Vermuyden?
Coming to the Cape of Good Hope
Jan van Riebeeck
The Europeans brought the muzzle loading cannon of South Africa to the Cape of Good Hope.

The oldest cannon in South Africa is the “Pedreiro” - a bronze cannon, that was cast by Sabastiao Cobris between 1514 and 1526, approximately 130 years before Jan Van Riebeeck set foot ashore in the Cape on 6 April 1652 to establish a replenishment station for the Dutch ships en-route between Holland and Batavia in the East. This cannon was built to fire stones and is currently preserved in a storeroom in Pietermaritzburg.

The seafarers of yonder used muzzle loading cannon on board of their ships to protect themselves against attacks at sea.

With the building of fortresses on land, cannon were brought ashore for their protection. Thus Fort De Goede Hoop, which was built at the Cape by Jan van Riebeeck in 1662, as well as the Castle of Good Hope, the foundation of which was laid by Van Riebeeck's successor, Zacharias Wagenaer in 1666, were equipped with muzzle loading cannon. However, no shot was ever fired in anger on, or from either of these fortresses.

Later on other cannon batteries were built at the Cape to ward off possible attacks from the sea. One of those batteries was the Imhoff-battery. It was named after Gustaaf Willem Baron Van Imhoff, govenor-general of Dutch East India, who visited the Cape on his way from Holland to Batavia.

The Imhoff Battery used to be right next to the Castle of Good Hope on the seaward side. In later years it was demolished to make room for Strand Street, which currently runs between the Castle of Good Hope and Cape Town Railway Station.

Generations later a similar fate almost befell the two bastions of the Castle of Good Hope, which were next to the Imhoff Battery, when the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil John Rhodes, (b.1853, d. 1902) wanted to demolish part of the Buren and the Catzenellenbogen bastions to make way for railroad tracks. Fortunately a lady of note at the time, Marie Koopmans-De Wet, convinced Rhodes to abandon his plans. Rhodes' defense was that only a small part of each bastion would be removed, upon which Marie Koopmans-De Wet responded with: "Your nose is only a small part of your face. Cut it off and then look in the glass."

The two Blomefield muzzle loading cannon that are currently situated at Lion Battery on Signal Hill are the oldest operational noon guns in the world. They are British cannon, which were deployed at Imhoff Battery after the first British occupation of the Cape after the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795, and were brought to Lion Battery on Signal Hill when the Imhoff battery was demolished.

Among many other cannon batteries that were destroyed in the name of progress were the Amsterdam Battery, of which only a back wall can still be seen at one of the the entrances to the current Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and the Chavonne Battery. The Chavonnes Battery is now maintained as a museum inside the basement of the Nedbank building in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The Chavonnes Battery was named after govenor Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes.

Chavonne was the first governor at the Cape who made the soldiers wear military uniforms and who issued a manual for the maintenance of their weapons.

Chavonnes also introduced a tax system at the Cape by ordering the farmers to pay tithes on their produce.

In 1722 Chavonnes also established a citizen force named "Companie Vryswarten", which consisted of the so-called "free blacks" and Chinese, who lived in the Table Valley.

Maurits Pasques De Chavonne died after a sick bed of only one day and was buried on 14 September 1725. Cannon were fired at the Castle of Good Hope since his hearse left until it returned.

Maurits Pasques De Chavonne
Gustaaf Willem
Baron Van Imhoff
Did you know that the tombstones of Jan Van Riebeeck and his wife Maria de la Quellerie, who both died abroad, were later brought back to South Africa and can be seen in the court yard of the Slave Lodge Museum at the top of Adderley Street in Caoe Town?

Did you know that Van Riebeecks successor at the Cape, Zacharias Wagenaer, was a German?

Did you know that the five bastions of the Castle of Good Hope were named after some of the titles of Prince William III of Orange - Stadtholder of Holland at that time, and are: Leerdam, Buren, Catzenellenbogen, Nasau and Oranje? Did you know that he was also the King of England in one stage?
The French period at the Cape of Good Hope
King William III
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Did you know that the Leerdam, Orange and Nassau bastions, facing Table Mountain, were built higher than the sea-facing bastions, Catzenellenbogen and Buuren, to allow their cannon to shoot towards the sea, over Buuren and Catzenellenbogen?. These bastions each had a cannon on a platform, pivoting on a cannon barrel that was buried with the muzzle upward. This made it possible to swing the cannon around towards the sea if necessary.

Did you know that while It is widely believed that Buuren was the second bastion of the Castle of Good Hope to be built and that the building of the other bastions followed in a clock-wise sequence, starting with Leerdam; that there is good reason to believe that Catzenellenbogen was the second bastion that was built?

The publication "Castle of Good Hope since 1666", contains a sketch of the stages in which the Castle was built. From this sketch it is clear that Buuren was in fact the last bastion of the Castle to be built and that Catzenellenbogen was the second.

The same publication also mentions that when the "second" bastion was built, a much larger powder magazine had to be built underneath it, which could house a ton of black powder. Currently a small vault underneath bastion Buuren, which was exposed during excavations to make room for the current public toilets, is indicated as the oldest building inside the Castle and as the powder magazine of bastion Buuren. It however is clearly too small to have been able to house one ton of black powder.

On the other hand, the very much larger powder magazine underneath Catzenellenbogen (which for many years have been incorrectly indicated as the torture chamber of the Castle) clearly seems big enough to be able to house that quantity of black powder.

Those two pieces of evidence indicate that Catzenellenbogen was most probably the second bastion that was built, and not Buuren.
Chavonnes Battery
GOOGLE MAP to the Chavonnes Battery Museum as well as the site where Amsterdam Battery used to be.
Amsterdam battery
Castle of Good Hope