Cecil John Rhodes came to South Africa in 1870 where he was quickly attracted by the allure of the recent diamond rush taking place in
Kimberley at the Big Hole. After shrewdly purchasing the mineral rights of the De Beer brothers farm for a paltry £ 6 000 Rhodes was now well on his way to fame and fortune.
Queen Victoria, quite chuffed by his financial acumen and loyalty to the Empire, duly appointed Rhodes as head of the British South Africa Company. With the queen's blessing Rhodes claimed vast areas of Mashonaland as his own and renamed the area Rhodesia.
Next, Rhodes became the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony but eventually grew weary of politics and retired to his home in Groote Schuur. He also purchased what is now Kirstenbosch Gardens, which he
bequeathed to the Botanical Society upon his death in 1902.
In 1912 the city constructed the massive granite memorial in his honour upon the slopes of Devil's Peak, just above the present site of the University of Cape Town. Visitor's are welcomed to the memorial by the obligatory bronze statue of a rearing
horseman. The Memorial is guarded by eight bronze lions that line the 49 steps, one step for each year of his life, leading up to the imposing rows of granite pillars reminiscent of a Greek temple.
There is a tea room located behind the temple where one can take in the the panoramic view across the city's stock yards and northern suburbs. The restaurant is very popular and so reservations are necessary, especially on weekends Tel 021 689 9151
Above the memorial a pathway leads up to a turn of the century block house called the King's Blockhouse. There are also contour trails, one heading southward toward the Newlands forest and another heading westward towards the city. This corner of Devil's Peak can be ferociously windy so bring sunscreen or be prepared to hold onto your hat very tightly.
- exit the M3 just south of the University of Cape Town
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