Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsSacramento Cannon
Where? Schoenmakerskop, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Sometimes called the 'miracle cannon' because of the mint condition in which it was found, the cannon salvaged from the wreck of the Sacramento, a Portuguese man o' war that ran aground just outside Port Elizabeth in June 1647 on her maiden voyage, rests at the top of the cliffs at Schoenmakerskop just above where she was wrecked.
There is an interesting story attached to the wreck of the Sacramento for the survivors, of which there were around 70, set off up the coast, their destination a port in Mozambique from where they trusted they would get a ship home.
The distance they planned to cover was 1 400 km and the crew only started out 10 days after the wreck. Needless to say, by the time they reached Mozambique, few had survived. They did, however, meet up with another group of survivors en route from the wreck of the Atalaya, who accompanied them to Lourenco Marques (Maputo).
The cannon is a perfectly preserved piece of history; a bronze artifice, salvaged from the wreck in May 1977, and declared a national monument in 1986. It lies mounted on a concrete base, enclosed by low railings at the end of the frontage road of Schoenmakerskop. The monument overlooks a few rock pools and the sea, and benches provide a space to sit and contemplate.
It is a bit of a drive from Cape Town, and Sacramento is a little quieter than it used to be, but the drive is worth it. The plaque has a detailed account of the history of the cannon and the ship on which it sailed. There is also a restaurant close by.
And, of course, this is the start of the Sacramento Trail, which runs from Schoenmakers to Sardinia Bay - a lovely, easy walk alongside the sea. It is advisable to do the trail in a group, as the windswept coastline, as beautiful as it is, is also fairly isolated.