Robben Island

Entrance at Robben Island

Robben Island lies just off the coast of Cape Town in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean and is famous as the prison where former South African President Nelson Mandela and many other black political dissidents were held. The now disused prison is a museum where former political prisoners act as guides. At the time it was effectively a political university for a generation of black South African prisoners.

Inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1999, Robben Island was used at various times between the 17th and 20th centuries as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups and a military base. Its buildings, particularly those of the late 20th century such as the maximum security prison for political prisoners, witness the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.

The island derives its name from the Dutch word for seals, ‘robben’.

Daily ferry trips and tours operate to and from Robben Island from the V&A Waterfront, weather permitting, and can be booked in advance through a local Travel Expert. Allow a 1/2 day for this excellent experience.

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