Heritage site at last

The Castle of Good Hope has officially been declared a Grade I national heritage site.

However, the board of the Castle says the status is but a step in having Cape Town’s oldest building declared a world heritage site.

The Castle was declared a national heritage site by the South African Heritage Resources Agency on Friday 14 October. In the gazetted announcement, it was stated that “the Castle of Good Hope is arguably the oldest fortress and building in South Africa”.

“It is currently the oldest functioning Dutch colonial building of the period. It has retained its function as military site and centre of ceremonial military activity of the Cape regiments. It currently houses the William Fehr collection, the Military Museum and is home to the Cape Town Highlanders regiment. The Castle of Good Hope represents an aesthetic particular to fortifications built by the Dutch,” the statement says.

Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of the Castle board, says: “This is another momentous occasion in the life of the Castle of Good Hope that now enjoys Grade I heritage status. This is confirmation of the true value of the Castle in the cultural heritage and history of the country – a real feather in our cap.”

The declaration means that the Castle is “now a site of national, cultural significance that will get high level attention from government and its agencies”, explains Gilfellan.

“As the legally mandated management agency for the Castle, it makes our work easier because we can approach various national partners to support us in our endeavours to manage, conserve, maintain and promote the Castle,” he says.

“This also paves the way for our international heritage status ambitions.”

The next big step is the process to get the Castle listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, a process which is already underway, Gilfellan says.

“It started last year with us expressing our intentions to the ministry of environmental affairs. But it is still a long way to go with the preparation of the dossier of evidence. But at least we have started and now with the national listing, we can galvanise all the forces to support us. We will kick-start the process with the development of an integrated environmental management plan,” he says.

If the international status is achieved, the Castle will be on par with the top heritage sites in the world, Gilfellan says.

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