Simply Stunning Stellenbosch
Beautiful Stellenbosch lies just 55 kilometres east of Cape Town sheltered in a valley surrounded by mountains that include the Papegaaiberg – little more than a hill in reality – the Stellenbosch Mountain, Jonkershoek Mountains and the Great Drakenstein Mountains.
Stellenbosch is not only the second oldest European settlement in the Western Cape – it was founded in 1697 by Simon van der Stel who promptly named it ‘Stel’s forest’ after himself – but it is also steeped in history. Its oak-lined streets, like Dorp Street, are bounded by typical Cape Dutch-style buildings that serve as the main thoroughfare of the local university, where the conservatoire is the oldest music school in the country.
Stellenbosch is worth a visit for far more than its historical value alone. It also has a number of museums, galleries, fine restaurants and one of the oldest wine routes that represents over 200 wine and grape producers. The wine route is divided into five sub-routes, and maps guide you through daily wine tasting, cellar tours and lovely options to picnic or lunch at cellar restaurants. Stellenbosch is the main viticulture and viticulture research centre, and its Mediterranean-type climate makes it ideal for wine production.
Stellenbosch is not only about wine, good food and history, however. It is also the site of a number of ‘must visit’ markets that include the Fresh Goods market, an authentic Slow Food market on the Dorpstreet square in Bosman’s Crossing trading village every Saturday morning, and the natural and organic farmers’ market at the Waldorf school. There are also several hiking trails in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.