Hg2 : The Hedonist

Rhodes Memorial

Not the best known of Cape Town’s monuments, but still worth a visit. Built in 1912, the view from this mock Athenian temple shows a part of the city that doesn’t usually make it onto the visitor’s itinerary, stretching beyond the airport and the Cape Flats to the distant Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains. Prime minister of the Cape Colony between 1890 and 1896, Rhodes was not only a hardcore imperialist (British ‘Cape to Cairo’ was his dream) but Cape Town’s most powerful homosexual, having made a tremendous impact on the city and the continent. The monument, built from public contributions, acknowledges his triumphs on behalf the British Empire (making no mention of the suffering caused by his rapacious mining concerns). Designed by Sir Francis Macey and Sir Herbert Baker, the monument, with its doric columns and a stairway of 49 steps (one for each year of Rhodes’s life), is flanked – in imitation of the Avenue of Sphinxes in Karnak – by eight cast lions modelled on those surrounding Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square. At the base of the steps is an equestrian statue with a rearing horse saddled by ‘Energy’, a rider who appears to be shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun – symbol of Rhodes’s boundless determination perhaps; above, overlooking all, is the bust of Rhodes, with an inscription composed by Rudyard Kipling, a dear friend. His home, Groote Schuur, was a short horse ride away and the stately mansion is now the official Cape Town residence of the President; Groote Schuur also gave its name to the coun- try’s most famous hospital, also nearby, where Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant. Finish up, or start, your visit to the Memorial with a light, dependable meal at the tearoom-style restaurant (which enjoys similarly astonishing views), and then set off on a hiking excursion along one of the paths that start here and lead up or around Table Mountain.

Groote Schuur Estate, above UCT on the slopes of Devil's Peak, Rondebosch,
Southern Suburbs
+27 21 689 9151
Opening Times
Restaurant: daily, 9am-5pm
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