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Best History Museums in Cape Town

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Gold of Africa Museum

Housed in the historic Martin Melk House, one of the finest examples of Old Cape Town architecture still standing, the Gold of Africa Museum showcases the world's most comprehensive collection of gold art and artifacts from South Africa and the Sahara. A reflection of thousands of years of history, culture, myth, and ritual, the permanent collection represents many of the region's historical kingdoms and peoples. Temporary exhibits also feature gold from such diverse countries as Mali, India and Brazil. Guided tours are available by appointment, including the Pangolin Night Tours, which begin with a glass of wine sprinkled with real gold leaf, then continue on a torchlit journey through the museum. A restaurant and museum shop are also located on-site, with live music featured daily.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Iziko Social History Resource Centre

In 2010, after a three year long renovation, the Social History Centre was renamed Iziko Social History Centre. The center is a museum as well as an immensely large central archive. It houses more than 2,50,000 historical artifacts, cultural artifacts, books, etc. Located in the heart of the city, the museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Cape Town, South Africa
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The Springbok Experience

The Springbok Experience is located on Portswood Road in Cape Town, South Africa. The museum uses rugby as a means to relate the country’s history. A characteristic feature of the museum is that it is highly interactive. It partakes its rich knowledge filled records to its patrons in new and fun ways: like audio-visual displays and kicking and fitness games for guests of all ages. The museum shop sells replicas of trophies and journeys that hold much importance in their displays.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Iziko South African Museum

The South African Museum is situated at the top of Queen Victoria Street within the peaceful Company's Gardens. The museum exhibits the largest collection of meteorites in the country, and incredible life-like reproductions of animals, of which fossilized remains were discovered in the Karoo semi-desert. There is also a whale skeleton, some members of the aquatic world, and other specimen of flora. Adjoining the museum is the Planetarium, whose projectors replicate the heavens and illuminate the constellations over a 26,000 year time span. Shows and talks are given regularly.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Jewish Museum

The South African Jewish Museum can be found on the Bouquet Street of Cape Town in South Africa. It was founded by Mendel Kaplan and declared open by Nelson Mandela in 2000. The Museum holds records of the entire Jewish history in South Africa, tracing its roots back to Libya. It is funded by the Kaplan Kushlick Foundation, and for a recent addition to the world of museums, its high-tech displays hold a vast sea of knowledge.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Cape Town Holocaust Centre

In the year 1999, The Cape Town Holocaust Centre was established. It is the site for remembering and learning from the old times. It honors the over six million Jews that were victims of the Holocaust and Nazi terror. It spreads knowledge on consequences of racism, discrimination and prejudices while promoting the importance of valuing human rights.

Cape Town, South Africa
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The Heart of Cape Town

The world’s first ever human heart transplant was done by Christian Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital of South Africa. The Heart of Cape Town is a museum that was established to commemorate this great milestone in medical history. The museum was opened in 2007, 40 years after the operation. The museum pays homage to all who played a crucial role in this miraculous surgical feat. It lies within the Groot Schuur hospital, which can be found in Observatory, Cape Town.

Cape Town, South Africa
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Robben Island

Between the 17th and 20th Centuries, Robben Island was synonymous with isolation, variously used as a prison, leper colony and asylum. Through the course of its history, this small island off the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa was also employed as a post office, military outpost and port for ships visiting Table Bay. However, the island is most renowned as the site of the maximum security prison for political prisoners opened in 1961 to detain the leaders of the anti-apartheid revolution. The most notable of the island's inmates is Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence at Robben Island. Other former inmates include Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, both of whom went on to be elected presidents of the country following the fall of apartheid in 1990. Robben Island is now a museum that preserves the legacy of the island; a symbol of the triumph of democracy over racism, inequality and discrimination. Besides the imposing edifice of the maximum security prison, the island also encompasses the crumbling ruins of the military fort, the lepers’ church, a small lighthouse and the tomb of Hadije Kramat - a place of pilgrimage. A World Heritage Site, Robben Island attracts thousands of visitors each year. Guided tours are led by former inmates who offer a rare glimpse into the lives of those incarcerated at Robben Island.

Cape Town, South Africa
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