• LOCATION 11 | Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Back Stairs: Cellars

    Back Stairs: Cellars on Cape Town audio tour Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Narrator: Take a moment to look back here.

    Let your eyes follow the stairs up past the door. Continue on over the window with its small, square panes until you reach the thatched roof.

    Now pan from left to right and count the gables. How many can you see from here? There’s one to the far left, and two at either side of the house, then a fourth behind you. That’s four out of the building’s six.

    It’s worth paying attention to the ground level here too. Have you noticed that we’re lower here than we were at the front of the house?

    This was the first floor of Simon van der Stel’s house, before Hendrik Cloete Senior raised the building. And to either side of the stairs, you’ll find a network of tunnels.

    These cool, dark passages were a place to store wine and food. In summer, they were also a place to shelter from the heat – or to hide away and enjoy a moment of privacy, especially if you were a slave or servant.
    If you like exploring tunnels, duck down and dive in. There are entrances on both sides of the stairs, but I’d go left – and then left again once you enter the cellars.

    You’ll reach a claustrophobic tunnel blocked off by a cast iron grate. It’s still unexplored, but Thys thinks it might open up into a safe room, where Groot Constantia’s residents could hide their most valuable possessions or even themselves.

    But before you go off exploring, take a look behind you, across the courtyard. Can you see the two ponds with a passage between them?

    That passage is our second-last stop. Play track twelve when you reach it.

Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine