While in university, I always envisioned the town of Stellenbosch as a student city where university undergrads partied until the early hours of Thursday morning and stumbled out of the residents for the last lectures of the week. While that part may be true, I discovered just how romantic and vibey this historical town in the heart of the Cape Winelands really is…
It was only after staying at the oldest hotel in South Africa, d’Oude Werf, that I discovered its origin. This national monument once home to the oldest Christian church in South Africa but was destroyed in one of three fires to ravage through the little village. Like so much of the town, the memorabilia held within its walls speaks of another time when wagons were the main form of transport. It is superbly preserved and binds the historical and modern day living together perfectly.
Whilst sitting on the porch, I looked to the left to see a majestic church towering up into the blue and white dotted sky and would later hear the church bells still ringing to this day. Side walk restaurants line the narrow streets and customers sip cappuccinos as few cars drive past.
Curio, jewellery and clothing stores are positioned around European-style plazas and old wine barrels stand on the pavement decorating store fronts. There are families enjoying gelato from the tiny store bursting with colour and vendors selling their African drums, jewellery and masks in the market.
Just off the middle of the square is a white-washed church dating back to 1804 where people can visit. Outside the garden is filled with rose bushes and another bell tower stands erect. Art galleries display the work of seasoned professionals who sell their paintings, sculptures and wall art for a living.
Dorp Street is another oldie. It is said to be the oldest residential street in the country and was dubbed ‘the wagon way to Cape Town’. Today, you’ll see vehicles of another kind making their way to the Mother City.
I can’t quite decide what the best part of this town is. The tall oaks with their bright green leaves that shade the streets or the Cape Dutch style architecture that decorates this village? It may be the quaint bicycles that you can rent and ride around the town or the corner coffee shops with their chalkboard menus and delicious pastries.
Some may argue that the true treasure of Stellenbosch lies in its vineyards amongst its bunches of grapes, within its cellars and ultimately the nectar which is bottled and sold around the world.
It may in fact be the art commissioned by students and artists dotted around the town- Murals on unexpected walls, exhibits hanging across walkways and massive sculptures besides the canals of the Mill Stream. I’m willing to propose that it may just be all these features that have made me fall for the little town of Stellenbosch.
Book your Stellenbosch Hotel or Guest House in Stellenbosch for your stay in this stunning town. Don’t forget to visit some of the many Stellenbosch Valley Wine Estates and Stellenbosch Berg Wine Estates.