Cannon & Fort Route

Holland, England and France became Europe’s leading economic powers from the mid-17th century onwards. There was much commercial rivalry between them, including the invasion and takeover of each other’s outposts. They all regarded the Cape to be of great strategic importance due to its geographic location along the lucrative sea trade route to the Far East. Consequently, the Cape would become one of the most heavily fortified ports in Africa.

In 1652 the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company or VOC) established a refreshment station at the Cape. The Cape’s first fortifications were soon built as protection against both foreign and local threats.

The Fort De Goede Hoop was built in 1652 on the shore of Table Bay (where the Grand Parade is today) to defend the new settlement and its anchorage from possible foreign attacks. It also served as defence against perceived threats by the local Khoe.

The settlement expanded as the VOC claimed more land for grazing and some of their former officials were granted farms along the Liesbeeck River. The local Khoe retaliated against the dispossession of their land and other natural resources with cattle raids and by disrupting farming. A line of simple earth and timber fortifications or redoubts, connected by a timber fence, was built among the colonists’ farms as defence against such Khoe attacks.

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Cape Muslim Route

A significant proportion of South Africa’s Muslim population lives in Cape Town. The Cape Muslim Route highlights some of the history behind this, and contextualises the modern-day heritage of Islam at the Cape.

Between 1654 and 1795 Muslim political prisoners were regularly exiled to the Cape for resistance against Dutch rule. Muslim slaves and convicts were brought to the Cape to work on VOC buildings and farms, or for private citizens.

The town’s Muslim population initially grew as more Muslim slaves and convicts (including some Chinese Muslims) were brought to the Cape. Some Muslim slaves achieved freedom through marrying settlers or purchasing their own freedom and that of others. Convicts and some exiles who had served out their punishments were also allowed to live as free people but without the rights of citizens.


Most of the slaves in the Cape’s early colonial period came from Asian territories which the Portuguese and Dutch had colonised or where they had waged war and traded for some time. Slaves coming from these territories had therefore creolised both languages over time.

Thus besides Malayu-Portuguese, some words derived from Malayu, Bugies or Javanese languages survive alongside many African words in the Afrikaans language that evolved from Dutch. Find out more about Afrikaans...

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Amsterdam Battery

This battery, built during the 1780s on the site of a previous fort known as...

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Central Redoubt

In 1780 a French garrison was sent to the Cape to assist its Dutch allies...

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Chavonnes Battery

The Chavonnes Battery, the first large defence work constructed at the Cape after...

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East Fort Battery

Hout Bay was identified as a possible landing site for hostile foreign ships and troops...

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Fort Wynyard

The original wooden battery built on this site in 1795 was named Kijk in de Pot...

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Lion Battery and Noon Gun

From the 1870s onwards the Russian Empire began to expand its territory towards Afghanistan... Visit Now

Martello Tower

By 1743 the VOC was using Simon’s Bay as a seasonal outpost and its official winter...

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Middle North Battery

After the second British occupation in 1806 the British created a well-protected harbour at... Visit Now

Queen's Battery

This battery formed part of the False Bay coastal defences and was constructed between 1887... Visit Now

West Fort Battery

The West Fort Battery was originally built to protect Hout Bay and the Cape, from a...

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Kramats of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al-Qadri and Kaap-ti-low

Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah al-Qadri and Kaap-ti-low were...

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Kramat of Sayyid Mahmud

Sayyid Mahmud was an advisor of the Malaccan sultan Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe Shah...

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Kramat of Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe Shah

Sheikh Abdurahman was one of the Orang Cayen...

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Kramat of Sheikh Noorul Mubeen

In 1716 Sheikh Noorul Mubeen was exiled from the Indonesian Archipelago...

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Kramat of Sheikh Yusuf

Abidin Tadia Tjoessoep, better known as Sheikh Yusuf al-Maqassari...

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Kramats of Tuan Guru and Sayyid Alawie

Abdullah Qadi Abdus Salaam was a prince of Tidore in the Maluku Islands...

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Kramat of Tuan Matarah Sayed Abduraghman Motura

Tuan Matarah Sayed Abduraghman Motura also known as Hadji Matirim...

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Auwal Mosque

The Auwal (meaning first) Mosque was founded by a Prince of Tidore...

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Boorhaanol Islam (Pilgrim) Mosque

In the 1870s there was a dispute surrounding the succession of the Imam...

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Hanafee Mosque

Until the arrival at the Cape in 1862 of AbuBakr Effendi from Turkey...

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Jamia Mosque

The Jamia Mosque was the fourth mosque established in Cape Town but the...

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Nurul Huda (Leeuwen Street) Mosque

In 1939 the Jassiem family established a prayer room in the Bo-Kaap...

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Nurul Islam Mosque

Nurul Islam Mosque is the third oldest mosque in South Africa...

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Noerul Mogammadiah (Nurul Muhammadia) Islam Mosque

This mosque in Vos Street, Cape Town, was constructed in 1899...

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Palm Tree Mosque

Jan van Boughies arrived at to the Cape as a slave...

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Coowatool Islam (Quawatul) Mosque

This mosque in Loop Street, Cape Town, was the second to be established within the Hanafi...

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Shafee Mosque

Mosque Shafee was built in 1857, the fifth-oldest mosque in Cape Town...

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Tana Baru Cemetery

An unknown number of slaves and Free Blacks from all walks of life are buried in the Tana Baru...

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