Across from the slave tree on Church Square was the entrance to the Gothic-style Groote Kerk, a Dutch Reformed church and South Africa's oldest place of worship, built by Herman Schuette in 1841.
I was very surprised to read that there is probably no building in South Africa that is better known than the Groote Kerk.
Jan van Riebeeck brought the Reformed religion to the Cape and the practice of this religion played an important part in the lives of the pioneer community. From the beginning of the settlement, Van Riebeeck’s ship, the Drommedaris, served as the first church on South Africa's shores. The first Sunday service at the Cape was held on board on April 14th, 1652.
After settlers landed, provision was made for a hall in which religious services were held. The hall soon became too small as the population expanded, so a timber shed was converted into a church in 1678 by giving it a stone floor and a front gable. Over time, the flat roofs of the extended corners of the church constantly leaked and required costly maintenance. The condition of other parts of the building also gave cause for concern. There was no alternative but to demolish the entire building except the steeple and the vestry. It was replaced by the present building in 1841, but the original tower was retained.
The signs at the church entrance were in Afrikaans, a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia, and to a lesser extent, Botswana and Zimbabwe. According to Wikipedia, "Afrikaans evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century."
It was a little spooky to find out that approximately 200 people were buried under the floor including eight governors.
The organ, with nearly 6,000 pipes, is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. One of the most interesting features of the church was the enclosed pews, each with its own door. Prominent families would buy them so they wouldn't have to pray with the masses!
A parishioner, who also volunteered as a guide, mentioned that the pews are now open for anyone. He also talked briefly about the simplicity of the city's Protestant churches compared to the city's far more ornate Anglican and Catholic churches. He added that hardly any alterations have been made to Groote Kerk during the past century and a quarter, except that the buildings on either side of the church have disappeared.
Originally located on the coastline of Table Bay, the Castle is now far away from the sea, located inland following land reclamation. The gateway, built in 1682, replaced the old entrance, which faced the sea.
During the Cape Town Military Tattoo, an annual event that takes place at the end of the year, military bands, precision drills and a Naval Cadet gun run are featured.
Because the castle is built on Khoi ancestral land and has been occupied for several hundred years, a Cleansing Ceremony takes place in the Inner Court to make the Castle a positive space for all.
Coach house and stables: Throughout the 19th century, coaches and carts were stored in one of these vaulted rooms; the other two were used as stables.
I read that the Castle now stands not only as "a reminder of Cape Town’s colonial past, but as a beacon of the city’s future." Art and photography exhibitions are often hosted within its five walls, as are some of the city’s premier commercial events.
Posted on February 9th, 2017 from Littleton, Colorado.