Robben Island Cape Town
Robben Island Cape Town : Every year, hundreds of people visit Robben Island, a unique emblem of “the triumph of the human spirit over hardship, pain, and injustice” with a rich 500-year-old multi-layered history, eager to study and honor the essential parts of South African history that the Island represents.
Robben Island is a South African island located in Table Bay, 6.9 kilometers west of the Bloubergstrand coast and north of Cape Town. The Dutch/Afrikaans name Robbeneiland, which translates as Seal Island, is derived from the Dutch word for seals (Robben).
Robben Island is approximately oval in form, measuring 3.3 kilometers north–south and 1.9 kilometers width with a total area of 5.08 kilometers2. As a result of an old erosion event, it is flat and barely a few metres above sea level. From the late-seventeenth century until 1996, when apartheid ended, it was fortified and served as a jail.
Nelson Mandela, a political leader and lawyer, was notably imprisoned on the island for 18 of his 27 years in jail prior to the end of apartheid and the advent of true, multi-racial democracy. He went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and was elected President of South Africa in 1994, becoming the country’s first Black president and serving a one-year term from 1994 to 1999.
Furthermore, the bulk of the inmates were held for political reasons. In addition to Mandela, two other former Robben Island convicts have been elected to the presidency since the late 1990s: Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma. Robben Island is both a South African National Heritage Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brief History of Robben Island in Cape Town-South Africa.
Robben Island was first seen by Europeans in 1498, when a party of Portuguese mariners sought sanctuary and slept the night in a cave.
In the 16th and early 17th centuries, the island was a popular resting spot for passing ships. It was designated a Dutch and later a British prison colony after early attempts at colonization. From 1846 through 1931, the island hosted a leper colony, as well as people deemed crazy. In 1864, a lighthouse was built. During World War II, fortifications were built, and Robben Island operated as South Africa’s maximum-security prison from the mid-1960s to 1991.
The majority of the detainees, including Nelson Mandela, were black males who had been imprisoned for political reasons. In 1991, the last of these detainees was released. Until 1996, the island was used as a medium-security jail for criminal prisoners. It was converted into a museum and designated as a national monument in 1997, and it was designated as a World Heritage site in 1999.
What to see during your visit to Robben Island in Cape Town-South Africa.
Visit the Robben Island Museum.
Robben Island Museum currently offers tours at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 13:00 p.m., and 15:30 p.m. The ferries leave from the V&A Waterfront’s Nelson Mandela Gateway. The tour lasts around 3.5 hours, including the ferry ride to and from the island; depending on the boat used as they have different travel times.
You will disembark in Murray’s Bay Harbor on the Island’s east coast and walk a short distance to buses that will take you to all of the island’s historical landmarks. You’ll pass buildings and a towering wall erected by inmates in the 1960s on your approach to the buses. The structures were used for prisoner visits by relatives and lawyers.
When you board the buses, you will be greeted by your Tour Guide. A Robben Island Tour Guide will lead the tour of the jail. This is part of our all-in-one tour concept. They are thoroughly versed and educated about the Island’s 500-year-old multi-layered history. The tour itinerary includes the leper burial, the Lime Quarry, Robert Sobukwe’s residence, the Bluestone quarry, army and naval bunkers, and the Maximum Security Prison, which housed thousands of South Africa’s liberation fighters for years. The trip concludes with a visit to Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
Robben Island Lighthouse.
Because of the maritime dangers posed by Robben Island and its surrounding seas, Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch colonial administrator in Cape Town in the 1650s, ordered that massive bonfires be lighted at night on top of Fire Hill, the island’s highest point (now Minto Hill). These were intended to alert VOC ships that the island was coming.
On Minto Hill, the Robben Island lighthouse was constructed in 1865. The 18-metre-high cylindrical brick tower includes an attached light keeper’s residence at its base and a lantern gallery at the top. The light was converted to electricity in 1938. Instead of a rotating lamp, the lighthouse has a flashing lantern that illuminates for 5 seconds every seven seconds.
White light bursts away from Table Bay from a 46,000 candela beam. It may be seen for up to 24 nautical miles. For vessels traveling south-southeast, a supplementary red light serves as a navigation aid.
How to get to Robben Island in South Africa.
Visitors may visit Robben Island on trips that depart from Cape Town’s waterfront. Tours leave three times a day and last around 3.5 hours, including a boat ride to and from the island as well as a tour of the island’s numerous historical monuments that are part of the Robben Island Museum. The island graveyard, the abandoned lime quarry, Robert Sobukwe’s home, the Bluestone quarry, army and navy bunkers, and the highest security jail are among them. The cell of Nelson Mandela is displayed.