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ALTE FESTE WINDHOEK NAMIBIA. The Alte Feste is situated on a high point overlooking the central business district of Windhoek . The once Schutztruppe fortress is now a museum and is well worth a visit.


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Alte Feste Windhoek National Museum

Ex Schutztruppe Fort now serving as a National Museum


Namibia National Heritage Plaque

Alte Feste

A National Heritage Site

Alte Feste Windhoek with Reiter Statue in foreground


The Alte Feste is situated on a high point overlooking the central business district of Windhoek . The once Schutztruppe fortress is now a museum and is well worth a visit. The exhibitions will walk you through a brief, but informative history of Namibia from the coming of the Germans in 1884, their occupation of the land and the subsequent uprisings and struggles by Namibians for independence from colonial rule.


Herero Prisoners 1904

Herero Prisoners 1904

Herero Prisoners 1904

Herero Prisoners 1904

Sam Nujoma as a Freedom Fighter

Freedom Fighter Sam Nujoma

Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia leadership 1981

Peoples Liberation Army Of Namibia leadership 1981


The above left photographs are of chained Herero prisoners following the Battle of Waterberg on11 August 1904. The infamous Extermination Order for the Genocide of the Herero People by German General L Von Trotha is one of the darker moments in Namibia's history. Over 50 years later on 10 December 1959 Namibia witnessed another atrocity against its indigenous people being the 'Shootings at the Old Windhoek Location'. These events caused a young Sam Nujoma, with the blessing of Herero Chief Hosea Kutako, to leave his homeland and begin the final Freedom Struggle which saw the Independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990. The date 10 December is today celebrated as International Human Rights Day, and in memory of those who were martyred. Above is a photo of a young Sam Nujoma as Commander in Chief of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), and the opening of the PLAN Military Council Meeting at Lubango, Angola in 1981.


UNTAG Vehicle plates

UNTAG vehicle plates


Party T-shirts

Queuing to vote

Queuing to vote

The counting

The counting

A Toast to Independence

A Toast to Independence


In 1989 the United Nations Transitional Group (UNTAG) arrived in Namibia to oversee that free and fair elections would be held. Thousands of UN troops were able to enjoy a tour of duty that experienced no incidents of violence or civil unrest. The time had arrived when all Namibian, regardless of their colour, could express their political affiliations without fear of repression. To be able to wear one's political party logo on one's T-Shirt was a new found experience.

There's is also an exhibition of what life was like in the old colony. For the socialites of the time the latest styles were imported from Europe, but for the farmer's wife out in the remote areas life was much harder. The early settlers had limited materials to work with. They initially lived in tents until they could make their own local bricks from abandoned termite mounds. Their furniture was built with what materials were made available to them. It was not uncommon to fashion used wooden packing cases and some empty petrol cans into a functional cupboard with drawers.


Namibia is home to some of Africa's most fascinating rock art including the famous rock painting in Africa, the White Lady of Brandberg . The museum has an excellent exhibition of rock art forms along with explanations as to the meanings of the paintings. Spend dome time reading this and you will appreciate your later visits to the rock art sites far more.


Imperial German Ensign

Alte Feste - Schutztruppe Fort


On 18 October 1890 Captain Kurt Von Francois with a troop of 32 men raised the flag of Imperial Germany on the hill and commenced with the erection of a 26 ft long shed for arms and provisions, and the digging of the foundations for the stone fortress. A brickworks was built that was capable of producing 20,000 burnt bricks and 40,000 air dried bricks every three weeks.

A building foreman named Tunschel supervised a team of 14 soldiers, 30 native men and 70 native women on the construction of the original building that was built to Von Francois' plan. Within two weeks the building had progressed to where the Germans considered their position in Windhoek to be secure from attacks from the natives. When Lt. von Bulow arrived in Windhoek in February 1891 the building, though incomplete, was serving as a barracks for the soldiers. The fort was originally 62 meters in length and 35 meters wide having foundations of quarried stone and the walls of burnt and air dried brick. Two 9 meter high corner turrets were built at the corners of the eastern wall and two 6 meter high corner turrets at the western end. The first section was completed in 1892 and later alterations and addition were made.


The Schutztruppe: A tour of duty in German South West Africa was demanding on both body and mind. The vast areas to be patrolled presented an amount of danger and the tropical illnesses were often contracted were debilitating and sometimes the cause of death. The history of the Schutztruppe's activities in the colony is sparse owing to the records having been returned to Germany and later lost in a war fire. It is know that by 1894 the force numbered 15 officers and 500 men, and that by the time of the January 1904   it had risen to 43 officers and 744 men. 


Schutztruppe servicing a machine-gun

Servicing a machine-gun

Schutztruppe a photo for home

A photo for home

Schutztruppe Party Christmas 1900

Christmas 1900

Schutztruppe at the Alte Feste 1902

Schutztruppe at the Alte Feste 1902


The fort served as headquarters for the Regional Command and the Schutztruppe and by the outbreak of World War One there were 14 rooms for NCO's, 5 rooms for privates, a Court Marshall Hall plus a room for the Court Marshall Officials. A workshop and an ammunition store. The south-east turret served as a records room.


Acknowledgements and further reading: H12, M1, P1, P2,

Of Interest: The Imperial German forces occupied Namibia from 7 August 1884 until 9 July 1915 when, at the Treaty of Khorab, they surrendered to the Union of South Africa forces of General Louis Botha. Namibia achieved independence on 21 March 1990

  • German occupation period lasted 29 years 10 months 33 days
  • South African occupation lasted 30 years 11 months 2 days.
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