Take a boat ride from the V&A Waterfront to explore several attractions of Robben Island. The boat ride takes approximately 30 mins to and from the Island. Once you reach the island you are excorted by a bus to the prison cell, the light house, the penguin colony, the Karamat, the limestone quarry and the hospital. The Robben Island trip is famous for its prison, a guided tour is given by an ex-prisoner. The tour lasts approximately 3-4 hours with different departure times and different ferries.
Robben Island Tickets cost R340.00 for a 4 hour tour or +/- R1000 for a full day extended tour with additional cultural highlights. Considering the amount of attractions, it is a must see attraction for tourists visiting Cape Town, South Africa
Robben Island light house is situated at the highest point on the island. The hill was originally called Fire Hill, named by the first Dutch administrator Jan Van Riebeeck. By means bond fire, Fire Hill was used to signal sailors coming toward the island. The name was later changed to Minto Hil.
In 1864 a decision was made to construct a light house on Minto Hill, this was constructed by Joseph Flack. The light house was built after a number of ships were wrecked around the island. In 1938 the light house was improved with an electric flash light to signal passing ships. The light house stands 18 metres tall with the flash light reaching a distance of 44 km. A second red light is used to navigate the ships coming towards Robben Island. The light house is the only building which is not an official heritage site.
There are 31 vessels wrecked near Robben Island. The high swells towards the Whale Rock became a danger point. The Dutch used the hill and made fires to navigate the ships, thereafter the light house was constructed and used to guide the ships.
The penguin colony of South Africa is populated with the African penguin. This unique bird is special to South Africa and has amazingly managed to adapt to the South African mild mediterranean climate. Robben Island is a natural habitat for the African Penguin. Penguins occupied the Island when the Dutch arrived in the 1700's. The Dutch decided to exterminate the penguin population and use the island breeding Rabbits, the objective was to supply the passing by Europeans with Rabbit meat en-route to India. Other bird species found on the Island are Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Sacred Ibis and Egrets.
The Karamat (shrine) on Robben Island is revered by Muslims in Cape Town and troughout the world. The Karamat is the burial place of an Islamic scholar who kept Islam alive among the slaves of South Africa. There are a total of 20 Karamats around the peninsula.
A number of leaders were captured as slaves by the Dutch East India Company and many of them were royalty in their own countries. The Dutch en-slaved these individuals for not comforming to their own religious beliefs. The Karamat situated on Robben Island was built in 1969 to commemorate the Prince of Madura, a city in India. Sayed Abdurahman Motura was of the first Muslim Imams of the Cape that was exiled to Robben Island in 1740. He died in 1754 on Robben Island.
The prison symbolises a triumph of the Apartheid regime. Robben Island became known for the political prisoners, Apartheid and Nelson Mandelam it is the prison that attract 1000's of tourist each year. In section B of the prison, the cells were occupied by political prisoners including Nelson Mandela. The concrete gateway which is seen as we head into the prison has an emblem of Apartheid with a moto saying "We Serve with Pride". The prison blocks on the Island are approximately 6ft square which is nothing but bleak concrete walls furnished with a bed on the floor. During the Robben Island tour, we walk through the court yard to try and vision the lives and harsh treatment the prisoners endured. An ex-prisoner gives a live commentory and explains what kept them going throughout thier sentence on Robben Island.
The lime stone quarry dates back to the mid-16th century. The limestone was used to build parts of the Castle of Good Hope which is the oldest building in Cape Town. To keep occupied, Nelson Mandela and other prisoner's chipped limestone for 13 years. The limestone affected Nelson Mandelas eye sight, he suffered with eye problems later in his life. The prisoners used the time spent at the lime stone quarry to educated themselves with literature on history and politics.
The hospital was used for people with mental problems, people with diseases, leprosy and also the prisoners. In 1939 they used the hospital after World War 2 as a military defence station. In the mid-19th century the hospital was used for all political prisoners.
Robben Island has two churches, one originally allocated in service of the leper colony and the other an Anglican church. The leper church was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and was built by members of the leper colony in 1895. Sir Herbert Baker also designed several other buildings in Cape Town. The money for the church was donated by ref W.V. Watkins. The building material came from the lime stone quarry. The graves surrounding the church are graves from the leper colony who died on the island.
Cape Richard Wolfe built the Anglican Church in 1833 when he took command of the prison when he took command of the prison in 1833. Today, the church is a national heritage site.
A visit to Cape Town is in-complete without seeing Robben Island and learning about the role the island played for South Africans.
Tickets for the Robben Island could be purchased through web tickets, by booking a Robben Island Day Tour