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Robben Island

Robben Island Cape Town

World Heritage Site

Another famous landmark of Cape Town is Robben Island, an island in Table Bay, some 13km from the mainland, which became a prison in 1807.

This was the place where sick people - generally suffering from leprosy, people thought to be mad and criminals were sent; to the island, where they were 'out of sight out of mind'. In 1960 a new maximum-security was erected and in 1962 Robben Island started to receive political prisoners, who were generally people of some stature and education, the most famous of which was Nelson Mandela. Robben Island was declared a national monument in 1996 and the prisoners were gradually all removed.

1997 saw the first tourists visit the island, and then in 1999 Robben Island was declared a World Heritage Site. Tours of the island are available daily from the V & A Waterfront, where after a 30 minute boat trip you will be shown around the island by bus and be able to enter the prison for a guided tour, the tour guides on the island are former prisoners who have experienced the island first hand, they provide an interesting and informative perspective on the island. It is also advisable to book your tickets in advance at the Waterfront as the trip is always very busy. Bad weather may affect service.

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