Robben Island has not always been a place only for prisoners. In antiquity it was inhabited when it was still joined to the main land.
By the time the Dutch navigated around the Cape of Good Hope, it was already an island and a location which the Dutch turned into a prison location from the 1600’s. During the Second World War it was a Training and Defence Station and in the 1840’s Robben Island was chosen as a hospital site for the mentally and chronically ill, giving them the benefit of a clean and isolated environment.
Robben Island has been made famous because of the incarceration of many indigenous African leaders, among who was Nelson Mandela. Since 1997 it has become a museum and a heritage site, much visited by local and overseas people. The museum also runs education programmes and does research related to the island.