Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse: A Historical Gem in Gqeberha


The Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse, nestled in the heart of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), is a historically rich and culturally significant landmark. This picturesque area combines natural beauty with historical monuments, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the past of this vibrant South African city.

The Donkin Reserve

Established by Sir Rufane Donkin, the acting Governor of the Cape Colony, the Donkin Reserve is a tribute to his late wife, Elizabeth. The reserve is a beautifully landscaped area featuring lush greenery, walking paths, and a variety of sculptures and art installations that reflect the city’s heritage.

The Lighthouse

Standing prominently within the reserve is the Donkin Lighthouse, built in 1861. This iconic structure once guided ships safely into Algoa Bay and remains a symbol of the city’s maritime history. The lighthouse is an essential part of the city’s skyline and offers breathtaking views of the city and the ocean from its vantage point.

Historical Significance

The Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse are not just scenic spots; they are steeped in history. The pyramid monument in the reserve, erected by Sir Rufane Donkin in 1820, bears an inscription dedicated to his wife, making it a poignant symbol of love and remembrance. The area also features plaques and informational boards that provide insight into the city’s colonial past and its development over the centuries.

Cultural Importance

Beyond its historical value, the Donkin Reserve serves as a cultural hub. It is a popular venue for events, art exhibitions, and community gatherings. The mosaic-covered walkway, known as the Route 67 Art and Heritage Trail, showcases the work of local artists and narrates the story of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of public service.

10 FAQs about Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse

  1. What is the Donkin Reserve?
  • The Donkin Reserve is a historical public park in Gqeberha, established by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his wife, Elizabeth.
  1. Where is the Donkin Reserve located?
  • It is located in the central part of Gqeberha, South Africa, offering panoramic views of the city and Algoa Bay.
  1. What is the significance of the Donkin Lighthouse?
  • The lighthouse, built in 1861, served as a navigational aid for ships entering Algoa Bay and is now a historical landmark.
  1. Can visitors climb the Donkin Lighthouse?
  • Yes, visitors can climb the lighthouse to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area.
  1. What is the pyramid monument in the Donkin Reserve?
  • The pyramid monument is a stone structure erected by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his wife, Elizabeth. It bears an inscription dedicated to her.
  1. What is the Route 67 Art and Heritage Trail?
  • It is a public art project within the Donkin Reserve that features 67 art pieces celebrating Nelson Mandela‚Äôs years of public service and South Africa’s cultural heritage.
  1. Are there any events held at the Donkin Reserve?
  • Yes, the reserve hosts various cultural events, art exhibitions, and community activities throughout the year.
  1. Is there an entry fee for the Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse?
  • No, entry to the Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse is free for all visitors.
  1. What facilities are available at the Donkin Reserve?
  • The reserve offers walking paths, gardens, art installations, informational plaques, and benches for relaxation.
  1. How can I get to the Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse?
    • The reserve is easily accessible by car, public transport, or on foot from various parts of Gqeberha. Parking facilities are available nearby.


The Donkin Reserve and Lighthouse in Gqeberha are more than just tourist attractions; they are a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural vibrancy. Whether you are a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful spot to relax, the Donkin Reserve offers something for everyone. Its blend of historical significance, cultural heritage, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination in South Africa.

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