Museums might sound to some like a very boring outing. But the Iziko initiative aims to offer a unique experience of South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage. The word means “hearth” in isiXhosa. In a traditional African homestead, it is the central focal point.

Similar to the idea of a hearth drawing the community together, these museums strive to be a gathering point of the country’s varied legacy.

Once you’ve completed the Iziko Museum Mile, you will have visited 7 museums, each focusing on a different cultural element. The route kicks off in the Company’s Gardens. The term “mile” is used loosely, if you walk between the museums, you will cover roughly 8km by foot. Or 10 km by car.

Visit iziko.org.za for more information about the museums listed below. Click here to view directions.

Iziko South African Museum

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The Iziko South Africa museum was founded in 1825 and was the first in the country. Located in the Company Gardens since 1897, it houses important African collections of zoology, paleontology and archeology. 📷:@ecamilla_rsa 🦖🐾🏛#letdothis #capetown WHEN: Mon – Sun, 9AM – 5PM. WHERE: Queen Victoria St, Gardens, Cape Town. WHY: See important historical collections. #️⃣ #iziko #southafricanmuseum #gardens #thingstodo #ideas #explore #adventure #activities #getoutside #discover #food #drink #meetup #squadgoals #hike #fitness #health #culture #explorecapetown #mothercity #westerncape #mzanzi #southafrica #roadtrip #unplug #letsdothiscpt #dothis Tag or email us with your tip………………… 📩 Please note – we cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss of life that may occur when following the tip for the day ✌️

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It’s the flagship of the museum family. You will travel back thousands of years to the origin of our country. The museum dates back to 1825, established as research and educational institution. Scientists still work here to preserve and capture newly-found artefacts and fossils. There are thousands of these in the archive of the museum.

The exhibits include fossils of early human ancestors; Khoi-San archaeological collections; an extensive marine biology collection; minerals and rocks; dinosaur dioramas plus a life-size display of African dinosaur fossils.

Planetarium

Linked to the South African Museum, a visit to the Planetarium is a must. The shows captivate both adults and children. With new state of the art digital technology, the educational shows are engaging and a great visual treat. View the daily Planetarium shows.

Location: 25 Queen Victoria Street, Company’s Gardens

Iziko South African National Gallery

The building has been preserving inspiring artworks since 1871. It boasts with South Africa’s past and present art gems. A wide variety of historical and contemporary artworks have been gathered for your viewing pleasure, including both African and international works. Admire the paintings, photography, beadwork, sculptures, and textiles.

The permanent collections are rotated every few months, carefully selected by a team of curators. Plus, established South African artists regularly host exhibitions at the gallery.

Visit the South African National Gallery events page to stay in the loop.

Location: Government Avenue, Company’s Gardens

Iziko Slave Lodge

The history of this building is tainted with the darker side of South Africa’s history. Built in 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, it was thousands of slaves’ first taste of their new forced homeland. It was used from the 17th to 19th century.

Now you can imagine yourself in their shoes while learning more about the South African slavery history and challenge yourself to think about human rights issues. The exhibitions include Egypt in Africa; Singing Freedom: Music and the Struggle Against Apartheid; The Story of isiShweshwe: Material Women? and more.

Location: Upper Adderley Street, CBD

Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum

The museum is  in one of the original residential houses of the area. It was built somewhere between 1763 and 1768. This area was formerly a Malay Quarter. The house was restored and now showcases artefacts of the Muslim cultural heritage, as well as exhibits exploring the development of the city. Read our post to find out more about the history of the Bo-Kaap.

Location: 71 Wale Street, , CBD

Iziko Rust en Vreugd Museum

The city is full of beautiful historical buildings. This one dates back to 1778. Willem Cornelis Boers called it home. He was a high-ranking Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie* (VOC) official. It’s located on the outskirts of the CBD and features the typical Cape Dutch architecture. The period-style garden enfolding the house will transport you back to a bygone era.

You can view the William Fehr Collection of Artworks on Paper, to get a better feel for the life of an early Cape settler.

*Translated from Dutch: United East Indies Company

Location: 78 Buitenkant Street, CBD

Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House

You might have walked past this house on Strand Street, oblivious that it’s a hidden historical gem. In the 18th-century a wealthy family settled here. The house’s name comes from the final private owner, Marie Koopmans-de Wet. Over the years the building underwent renovations, but its original flair has remained intact. A beautiful façade, extravagant big sash windows, and stylish doors – it’s a classic example of Cape Dutch architecture. The private townhouse was the first opened to the public in 1914, giving it the status of oldest South African house museum.

Location: 35 Strand Street, CBD

The Castle of Good Hope featuring William Fehr Collection

The castle is the oldest South African colonial building. Dutch colonialists built it from 1666 to 1679. And for more than two centuries the pentagonal fort was the house of military and government operations. Walking through the castle will offer you a glimpse into the early Cape life. View William Fehr’s historical art collection in the Kat. This building was once the home of the Cape governor, situated in the middle of the Castle grounds.

The collection contains beautiful paintings and ceramics, as well as furniture. It’s a great way to gain insight into early colonial South African life.

Location: Corner of Darling Street and Buitenkant Street, CBD

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