There’s so much that the Western Cape has to offer in terms of history. So, if you’re a history buff eager to explore all that our beautiful province has to offer, here are five small towns that have historical significance.
Surrounded by gorgeous vineyards, this quaint town is more than three centuries old. Around 200 French Huguenots found themselves escaping religious persecution, settling in the Berg River Valley and founding the community of Franschhoek. This small town is literally a small corner of France, with charming French-inspired restaurants on every corner. Grab a piping hot baguette or visit the famous Huguenot monument.
Affectionately referred to as the “town of oaks,” Stellenbosh is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and the most perfectly preserved. Founded by the Dutch settler Simon van der Stel in 1679, Stellenbosh is famous for its Dutch buildings, university and copious amounts of wine farms. The town has some famous restaurants, including Bohemia, a must-try pizza joint. If you’re looking to enjoy some wine or champagne, JC Le Roux, Tokara and Jordan wine estate call Stellenbosch home.
Another famous Afrikaans settlement, Paarl is a not-so-small town that’s filled with many Dutch monuments, including the Taal Monument. Several unique attractions celebrate the creation of the Afrikaans language. The Monument to the Afrikaans language is nestled on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum and the Afrikaans Language Route through Dal Josaphat are all memorials and celebrations of this achievement.
This sleepy town is famous for its healing hot mineral springs, vineyards and orchards. It’s an easy two-hour drive from Cape Town. Montagu was originally a farm established in 1841 and was named after John Montagu, the Colonial Secretary of the Cape. However, it wasn’t until the famous Cogmans Kloof pass was constructed that Montagu started developing. Along with gorgeous historical homes and art galleries, there are endless fun outdoor activities, including hiking trails, 4×4 and mountain biking trails, and rock climbing opportunities.
This small town is located in the Overberg region and is surrounded by the Riversonderend mountain range and endless hills. Greyton was founded by Herbert Vigne in 1854 and was named after the Governor of the Cape at the time, Sir George Grey. Enjoy a walk through history as many of the hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, and shops have all perfectly preserved. There’s also plenty to do for the avid outdoorsman with swimming in the river, horse-riding, mountain-biking and 4×4 trails options.
Elim is a small village located on the Agulhas Plain. The village was established in 1824 by German missionaries as a Moravian mission station. As you walk along the streets of Elim, you’ll notice countless thatched roofs, and Elim’s thatchers are renowned for their craftsmanship. The community is still largely Moravian, and all roads lead to the thatched-roofed church. A visit to Elim will allow you to enjoy delicious wine (something the community is slowly becoming popular for) and seafood.