De Tuynhuys, Cape Town
Tuynhuys, the office of the state President and closed to the public, witnessed one of the most important turning points in South African history when FW de Klerk announced from its steps, on 18 March 1992, that South Africa had ‘closed the book on apartheid’.
This beautiful building, built originally in 1700 as a residence for important visitors to the Cape, lies between Parliament buildings and the President’s Council in Company Gardens. It has been used as an official residence by almost all the governors of the Cape - Dutch, Batavian and British - and by State Presidents after the country became a Republic in 1961. Historians have put together a sketch of Tuynhuys’s history and, it seems, it began as little more than a tool shed. This was converted into a guesthouse in the year Simon van der Stel became Governor in 1679, and by 1710 the guesthouse had already become a double-storey building with a flat roof.
However, there is evidence that Tuynhuys was not always livable. Lord Charles Somerset, who was responsible for adding a beautiful ballroom and for much of the re-decoration, had to move out of the building in 1824 as it was uninhabitable. Towards the end of the 19th century a debate as to its very existence occurred as authorities considered demolishing it, and a further restoration of the residence took place in 1967.
Today, De Tuynhuys stands as a symbol of a nation that has come through a history of colonisation and apartheid, and managed to survive intact, its young democracy a shining example to the world of man’s ability to overcome adversity.
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Attractions / Activities nearby
Company Gardens is a large public park and botanical garden set in the heart of Cape Town, home to a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary. Roaming Company Gardens, past the back of Parliament and Tuynhuys, the President’s official residence when in the mother city, is part of every visitor’s ... more information
A unique combination of history, fine wine, traditional food, military ceremonies and craftsmanship awaits you at this pentagonal fortification. Built between 1666 and 1679, the Castle is the oldest surviving building in South Africa. The Castle, was, however, not the first fort to be built at the Cape. A ... more information
The oldest museum in sub-Saharan Africa, the South African Museum (SAM) has been adding to their collections for nearly 200 years and was established in 1825. Collections here range from fossils to insects and fish found as recently as a week ago; there are Stone Age tools, over 120 000 years old, side by ... more information
Lying in the Company Gardens, opposite the South African Museum on Government Avenue, the South African National Gallery houses some of the most beautiful collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art in South Africa. The South African National Gallery’s permanent ... more information
St George’s Anglican Cathedral, a gorgeous example of Victorian era design with magnificent stained glass windows and a crypt in which there is a restaurant - reminiscent of St Martin’s in the Field in London - lies on Wale Street in Cape Town, and is known as ‘the people’s cathedral’ because of its ... more information
Once a congested city street, St George’s Mall is now a pedestrian area in the middle of Cape Town’s city, bustling with activity that ranges from live entertainment - provided by buskers, dancers, drummers, street artists and the like - to the sidewalk coffee shops and restaurants at which many locals and visitors ... more information
City Hall and Grand Parade lie side by side, both the subject of ‘imminent transformations’, which date all the way back to 2002 and have as yet to come to fruition. For years this beautiful, old building - the stairs of which were used by Nelson Mandela to address the nation when he was released from prison - has stood in the ... more information