This island is probably the most glorious of Cape Town’s attractions, all the more so because of its painful and turbulent history. It has served many a role since its colonization by the Dutch. These functions included being a prison for Henry the Hottentot imprisoned for opposing colonial rule and then Sobukwe [President of the Pan African Congress] since the 1960s and Sisulu [Secretary General of the African National Congress] two brave individuals who dared to speak out against the apartheid. Its most notable prisoner was Mandela who spent decades here. It also served as a colony for lepers, an asylum for the mad and as a base for the military.
This island was declared a world heritage site in 1997 and ever since has been a favorite tourist hot spot. South African leader Nelson Mandela is paid tribute with the gateway to the Island being named after him. This museum now displays photographs of prisoners and life in prison which are most humbling. In the same area is the lime quarry where prisoners including Mandela were made to do strenuous work. Interestingly, many of the guides are former political prisoners.
Visiting this island is a must and no visit to Cape Town is complete without seeing it. The trip is informative giving visitors a keen understanding of South Africa’s history and race relations.
Timings: Daily 7: 30 A.M- 9 P.M [Summer] 7 :30 A.M- 6 P.M [Winter]
Admission: R 150
Address: Robben Island