Signal Hill. Cape Town

Signal Hill is the name for the small hill alongside Lions Head in Cape Town. Also called the Lions Rump it is from this hill that at 12 midday every day a cannon is fired, as it has been done for over 200 years since 1806. This shot is Cape Towns oldest tradition and was originally used to signal the arrival of a ship requiring provisions. It also allowed ships to check the accuracy of their timing mechanisms on board. In order to do this and to ensure an accurate reading  observers in ships out at sea would look for the smoke from the gun muzzle as light travels faster than sound.


Depending on where you are and on the wind direction, the cannon can produce a thunderous roar or be a hardly noticeable blip merged with the other city noises. When walking up Platteklip Gorge with a NW wind blowing the shot echoes around the cliffs and has been mistaken for thunder on occasion. On other days you don’t hear it at all.