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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Table Mountain, Heart of Cape Town Museum, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Holocaust Centre, Rhodes Memorial, Lions Head, District Six Museum, Long Street, Castle of Good Hope, Greenmarket Square, South African Museum and Planetarium, South African National Gallery , Two Oceans Aquarium, Chavonnes Battery Museum, Langa Township, Orange Kloof, The Company's Garden, Newlands Brewery, Signal Hill, Koopmans-de Wet House, Two Oceans Marathon, Long Street Baths, Newlands Stadium, Blue Train, Whisky Live Festival, St George's Cathedral
Perched on top of Signal Hill in Cape Town is Lion’s Battery, a naval base where the Noon Gun is fired daily at precisely 12 noon, the only exceptions being Sundays and public holidays. On occasion, the gun is used to fire a 21-gun salute to welcome a dignitary to the city and is also fired on the day of the Gun Run, a popular half-marathon run through the streets of Cape Town.
The Noon Gun has operated since 1806 when the British, masters of the Cape Colony at the time, placed two cannons in the town to be used as both a time signal and to notify residents of an arriving ship. The blasts often shattered window panes and it was only much later that the cannons were moved to Signal Hill.
Passing ships would use the gun blast (or at least the plume of smoke generated by the blast) as a means of checking the accuracy of their chronometers. With the introduction of a galvanic telegraph in the mid-1800s, the gun was able to be fired remotely from the South African Observatory further inland.
Gun time, as it was known back in the day, was always the most accurate time and for the last two centuries, Cape Town residents have set their watches – and gone out to lunch – to the sound of the blast.
Visitors are welcome to drive up to Lion’s Battery to witness one of the oldest traditions and the firing of the oldest guns in regular use (there are two in the event of one failing). The process begins shortly before noon when a naval officer gives some background to the Noon Gun to appreciative audiences. He then loads a small powder bag down the barrel and an electronic signal sent from the South African Observatory triggers the blast. Birds scatter and workers can be seen far below leaving their offices for a lunch break.