Set amongst rolling green pastures dotted with content livestock, and a swirling river, Philadelphia has come into its own as a creative hub and weekend getaway for the arty, families, friends and for those who appreciate the simple quiet of an evening spent under the willow trees on a river bank. A 20 minute drive north of Cape Town, near Durbanville, the quiet enclave makes for a sweet escape from city life.
A huge church steeple cuts a silhouette against the cerulean blue sky and creates a majestic entrance to the town. Sugary sweet cottages line sandy lanes, the kind that have overgrown creepers cascading down their thick walls, while children amble down to the only supply store for their sweet ration of the day.
The heat hangs low and close to the ground, making everything and everyone seem to move in slow motion. Farm labourers scuttle about, hand in hand with their children, making their way back to their homes on the outskirts of the village.
Strolling down the streets of Philadelphia, you begin to understand the attraction of a place protected from progress and preserved by values and a sense of community. Here, within these homes and in these streets, a secret is whispered that only a few will ever hear. The secret of simplicity.
The hub of Philadelphia, called “The Pepper Tree,” is the relatively new arty development housing crafters, shops, a ceramic studio and a busy coffee shop. Village life tends to buzz around the coffee shop, where residents and weekenders catch up on news and gossip over coffee and cake.
A stunning crystal and jewellery store attracts shoppers into the road where the quaint “Pepper Tree” development is, and a cute bric-a-brac store run by a young couple offers up all sorts of interesting finds within a beautiful old home.
Philadelphia is home to some famous artists, crafters and ceramicists as well as young families, farmers and ex urban dwellers who all made the bold step to set up their lives and businesses here.
Folk law tells the tale of how farmers in the area became tired of having to ‘trek” to Durbanville to attend their Sunday morning church services and so decided to build a church in Philadelphia, giving rise to a settlement around it.
Some felt compelled to move here from the city, for the simplicity that prevails over small town life. Some felt it was the perfect place to live and work creatively and some just fell in love at first sight, stirring a need inside.
Activities in Philadelphia include horse riding, bird watching, lazing on the river banks, enjoying an impromptu picnic, taking a pottery class, dinners and soirees, painting and revelling in drawn out lunches under the pepper trees.