Western Cape Tourist AttractionsDe Tuynhuys
De 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 Ďclosed the book on apartheidí.
Where? Government Avenue, Cape Town Central, Cape Town
This beautiful building, built originally in 1700 as a residence for important visitors to the Cape, lies between Parliament buildings and the Presidentís Council in Company Gardens.
De Tuynhuys 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 Tuynhuysís 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 manís ability to overcome adversity.