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General Stellenbosch Information - links, history, weather, etc. (Cape Winelands Tourism/Tourist Information)
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A TOWN FOR ALL SEASONS
Stellenbosch is one of the most beautiful and heritage-conscious towns in southern Africa. Entering the town via historic Dorp Street is like stepping into the pages of a history book.
As a premier tourist destination, the name Stellenbosch conjures up images as very few other South African towns or cities can. History is reflected in many of its buildings; its neo-Dutch, Georgian and modern Victorian architecture, which encompasses simple lines, fine detail and elegant proportions, bears witness to its proud and dignified heritage. Rows of oaks and open spaces, where jagged lines of trees etched against white walls diffuse the heat of summer, transform the streets into soft, shady tunnels. Stellenbosch is synonymous with the oldest Wine Route in the country, which draws wine-lovers and tourists from around the world.
The Stellenbosch Wine of Origin area now comprise more than 106 cellars. Most are open to the public and some of the finest, award-winning wines may be tasted and purchased there. The town’s academic history stretches back to the mid-nineteenth century when the Stellenbosch Gymnasium was established in Dorp Street (since proclaimed a national monument). Later the Gymnasium became Victoria College and is known today as the University of Stellenbosch, home of the Maties. The University has not only produced hundreds of political leaders and achievers in the academic and business fields, but also rugby Springboks, including the legendary Dr Danie Craven.
For the inhabitants there is a small-town aura with a leisurely lifestyle in an atmosphere where art, music and theatre reign. Yet Stellenbosch is only half-an-hour’s drive from the Mother City of Cape Town…where else could one find this quality of life? And for the students, in addition to the buzz of campus life, the academic stimulation, and the sports facilities surrounded by mountain scenery, there are the sidewalk cafés and friendly meet-and-eat pubs – all within walking distance.
The main aim of the Stellenbosch Tourism & Information office is to expand tourist interest in the town, even though it has already been nationally and internationally acclaimed as the tourist jewel of South Africa. The town has some 3,000 beds available and accommodation ranges from self catering and bed and breakfast to full accommodation in quaint cottages, guest-houses and luxurious hotels. Many accommodation establishments are situated in and around the town, others amid the vineyards on wine farms. Youth hostels and a caravan park are affordable alternatives.
Protected from the fury of the infamous south-easter wind (the Cape Doctor) by the surrounding mountains, the region boasts a mild climate throughout the year and is a prime destination for both national and international tourists. Balmy summer days with temperatures between 22C and 34C lengthen into 15 hours of sunlight by mid-summer. The countryside remains beautiful throughout the changing seasons, although some say it is best in winter when the Boland is transformed by rains into a nature lover’s paradise. Protea, of which there are some 400 species, are an important part of the region’s flora, as are yellowwood trees, wild plum and Cape ash. Surprisingly, the hundreds of oaks are not indigenous to the area, but have nevertheless become synonymous with this Town of Oaks.
Where top academics, international business-men, wine and brandy experts, restaurateurs par excellence, conservationists, and people with a sense of history rub shoulders, ‘excellence’ is bound to be the watchword. That is probably the term that best describes Stellenbosch, with the unswerving pursuit of excellence evident in every sphere of endeavor.
THE BIRTH OF
On 6 November 1679 the newly-appointed Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, discovered a river running through a fertile, green valley. This was the first river he crossed on his journey from Cape Town and that is why he named it the Eerste (First) river. He decided to establish a settlement here and named it after himself – Stellenbosch. Witihin a short period the first settlers arrived. BY 1682 the town had become a local authority and in 1685 it became the seat of a magistrate with authority over 25 000 square kilometers. Grapes were planted in the fertile valleys and soon Stellenbosch became the centre of the wine industry.
In 1971 the world-renowned Stellenbosch Wine Route was established. The University of Stellenbosch, known affectionately as “Maties”, had its inception as the Stellenbosch Gymnasium in 1866. In 1880 it became Stellenbosch College and in 1887 was renamed Victoria College in honor of Queen Victoria. In 1918 the college officially became the university of Stellenbosch. The meticulously-restored buildings, particularly in oak-lined, historic Dorp Street, bear witness to a proud past, with many fine examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian architecture.
Several international enterprises have their headquarters in this bustling university town. An innovative project that involves only “clean” industry (fashioned after Silicon Valley in the United States) has been established at Technopark. Embraced by the majestic Simonsberg, Stellenbosch, Jokershoek, Pieke (Twin Peaks) and Helderberg mountains, this once quiet little village has evolved into a leading educational centre, a centre for industry and business, the heart of the wine industry, a golfers paradise and a prime tourist destination.
Stellenbosch Tourism & Information Bureau
Tel: (021) 883 3584 / Fax: (021) 883 8017 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The More Things Change…
The town of Stellenbosch planted its roots for the first time a little over 300 years ago. Like any good vine from a carefully prepared vineyard, Stellenbosch grew until ripe with fruit. Simon van der Stel described the area as, as beautiful as anyone may desire. Little did he know that Stellenbosch would grow into one of the most famous towns in South Africa.
Apon further inspection of the area, Simon van der Stel found that the land was well suited for viticulture. He himself was an energetic wine maker in Holland and he knew that he found what he was looking for. The area had the correct climate and soil, and all that was needed however, was knowledge. The district was soon colonized, and land was allocated to those daring enough to leave their motherland, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
Here, the settlers worked the land and built the old ‘dorpie’, but they never lost sight of one common goal. To create the juice of life, that soothes the sole, and pampers the spirit. It came as no surprise that Stellenbosch developed into one of the most beautiful and respected wine regions in the world.
Today, Stellenbosch is a thriving mecca with ample international corporate head offices, a buzzing business center, and of course the University. The beautiful oak lined streets have seen the likes of many professors and doctors, all dedicated to prepare a ripe future for their students. It is here where true tradition forms the foundation of many young lives.
Stellenbosch has seen the rise of many public figures like Doc. Danie Craywen and Annelien Kriel, but also in the world of music and the arts, the town has produced various household names.
3 ICONS OF STELLENBOSCH:
· Stellenbosch Village Museum (021) 887 2902
The Stellenbosch Village Museum is a true reflection of the old, historic part of town. One can wonder through 4 carefully restored houses ranging from the early 1700’s to the late 1800’s. Here one can move through these time periods in a matter of minutes, experiencing fascinating architecture, and getting a glimpse of life in the early development of the Cape.
· Oom Samie se Winkel (Oom Samie’s Shop) (021) 887 0797
At this famous old shop, one can purchase anything from sweats to alcohol, clothing and fruit. This shop is a true reflection of how locals use to trade 200 years ago.
· Moeder Kerk (Mother Church) (021) 883 3458
This fascinating church was built in the Neo-Gothic Architectural Style. This is one of the only landmarks of its sort in the region. It’s rich history and the sheer beauty of the place attracts many visitors. The church is a true icon of Stellenbosch, as it formed the foundation of the development of Stellenbosch.
AREAS OF INTEREST:
· Wine lands
The Stellenbosch Wine lands offers the visitor many exciting activities. One can taste wines at some of the best wine farms in South Africa. Other activities include, a visit to a Lion Park, Butterfly World, Crocodile Farm, interacting with cheetahs, Horse riding, Strawberry Picking etc.
· Historic Center
Visitors can experience the culture, tradition and true romance of Stellenbosch by strolling through the old town center. The University has many fascinating historic buildings, all-adding to the splendour of this lovely town. One can obtain a walking map from the Stellenbosch Tourism Bureau.
Stellenbosch is truly a town for all seasons, and we would like to invite you to come and enjoy, relax and indulge yourself in true ‘Boland’ hospitality.