Rhodes Memorial was built on the lower slopes of Devils Peak as a memorial to the late Cecil John Rhodes. It was to mark his favourite spot which he declared had a view 'unsurpassed anywhere in the world'. To the left of the memorial is Table Bay, while on the right is False Bay. It feels like you have the whole world at your feet when you stand at the top and look down on Cape Town.
Surrounded by Oak woods, the views up the slopes of Devils Peak and out over Cape Town's rich suburbs and the great expanse of the townships are impressive.
The monument was inspired by an Ancient Greek Temple and was completed in 1912. You are greeted at the bottom by a statue of a man on a horse. It is an exact copy of the statue “Physical Energy” found in Kensington Gardens, London. The one in London also commemorates Sir Cecil Rhodes and is described as “… a symbol of something done for the time, while the rider looks out for the next ting to do.” As you walk up the steps, there are 8 large lion statues, 4 on each side if the steps. The steps do make you feel like you want to re-enact a scene from the Rocky movie and run to the top.
So who was Rhodes? He was a English businessman, mining magnate and politician in South Africa. He became immensely rich after making his money during the diamond rush in Kimberley. He owned huge areas of the lower slopes of Table Mountain. Part of his estate, that he donated with his death, now houses the University of Cape Town and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Facts about Cecil John Rhodes and Rhodes Memorial:
- Cecil John Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishops Stortford in Herfordshire, England.
- After his move to South Africa, he founded De Beers Diamond company.
- Rhodes was Prime minister of the Cape colony from 1890.
- He controlled a territory that covered modern day Zambia and Zimbabwe which he renamed Rhodesia.
- He established the South African fruit industry with his Rhodes Fruit Farms in Franschhoek.
- In 1887 Cecil Rhodes bought Boschendal situated between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. It is now a well known Wine estate.
- There are 49 steps at Rhodes Memorial, one for each year of Rhodes' life.
- Rhodes redesigned Groote Schuur with the help of his friend Sir Herbert Baker. It was used as the official residence of the South African President and is now a museum.
- Rhodes was great friends with Rudyard Kipling who wrote 'The Jungle book' and the Kipling family lived in a house on his Groote Schuur Estate
- The company of JA Clift that cut and erected the granite for Rhodes Memorial still exists to this day in Paarl. They also did many other contracts like the Parliament and Franschhoek Huguenot Monument.
“To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annexe the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.”
While I'm writing about Rhodes Memorial and doing research on Cecil Rhodes and Sir Herbert Baker, I realized why I love blogging. The memories that come back and the new things I learn about something that I love. I get excited! I walk away a richer person and I love to share it with friends and fellow bloggers.
Sir Herbert Baker was born and died in Cobham in Kent, England. After moving to South Africa in 1892, he was commissioned in 1893 by Cecil Rhodes to remodel Groote Schuur. One of many projects that they worked together on. Sir Herbert Baker was an important and dominant force in South African architecture for two decades, between 1892 and 1912.
Other places that Sir Herbert Baker designed and built:
- Union Buildings in Pretoria
- Wynberg Boys High School
- Redesign of Groote Schuur
- Cecil John Rhodes Cottage on Boschendal
- Dale College, King Williams Town
- Grey college, Bloemfontein
- Rhodes University, Grahamstown
- St George's Anglican Catherdral, Cape Town
- Michael house, Boys School in Kwa-Zulu natal
- Bishops school House, Rondebosch
- South African House, the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square, London
- Rebuilding the Bank of England
- One of the grandstands at Lords Cricket Ground
Make Rhodes Memorial part of your trip next time you are in Cape Town. The Tea Room at the back has great coffee and the biggest scones. And with the views you can't beat the aspiring atmosphere. It is doggie and kiddie friendly with waterbowls lining the entrance for the dogs and a fairy wonderland play area for kids. My daughter believes that the Smurfs live in the forest behind the memorial. See, I always knew that Rhodes memorial was a magical place!
Rhodes Drive, Southern Suburbs
Take the M3 towards Muizenberg,
Past the University of Cape Town take exit 8 towards M164, Princes Ann Avenue
Keep right and Rhodes Memorial will be on your right hand side
Rhodes Memorial Tea Room
Trading Hours: 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week
Phone: 021 687 0000