With its temperate Mediterranean climate, beautiful
surroundings, magnificent backdrop of mountain ranges, modern facilities
and close proximity to all major places of interest in the Cape
Peninsula, Stellenbosch is the ideal get-away holiday destination.
Soon after the Cape of Good Hope had been established,
the newly-appointed Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, set
out on a discovery journey east to explore the wild and untouched
land beyond the Cape Peninsula. On 6 November 1679 he came across
a river running through a beautifully green, fertile valley. He
named the river "Eerste Rivier" (First River) and the
surrounding area "Van der Stel Bosch" (Van der Stel's
bush). Before long, news of the finding of this fertile valley spread
and the first families settled there in 1680. The settlement later
became known as Stellenbosch, and is the second-oldest city in South
The warm summers and winter rainfall provided an
ideal farming environment, and by 1682 the settlement had become
an established town. In 1685 it became the seat of a magistrate,
whose authority extended over 25 000 square kilometres. The first
school was built in 1686, followed soon afterwards by the first
A yearly celebration on Simon van der Stel's birthday
was held in honour of the founder. This tradition was started in
1686 and included games, parades, festivities and dances. As the
celebration took place on October 14th, it was a celebration of
spring at the same time. The highlight of the celebration was when
marksmen shot at a wooden parrot to win the main prize, and to this
day the hill where this event took place is still known as Papegaaiberg
Simon van der Stel launched a project to plant
oak trees and the mighty trees still line the streets of Stellenbosch.
The town is appropriately known as "Eikestad", or the
Town of Oaks. Unfortunately a recent disease has affected the trees,
and the towering oaks are slowly dying. Fortunately, since the oak
trees are a symbol of Stellenbosch, the town council started planting
new trees soon after the discovery of the disease.
In 1866, the Stellenbosch Gymnasium was founded.
In 1880 it changed its name to Stellenbosch College, but was renamed
in 1887 to Victoria College in honour of Queen Victoria. In 1918
the college officially became the University of Stellenbosch, known
affectionately as "Maties". The University has over the
years become the heart of Stellenbosch and is regarded as one of
the best in the world. During the year, the estimated 17 000 students
fill the town with a cheerful vibe and bustling activity in the
hostels, lecture halls, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and discos.
Holidays are the times when the tranquillity of the natural surroundings
and the comparative quiet in the streets allows Stellenbosch a chance
to breathe and prepare for the influx of young people that is sure
to follow with the next semester.
Stellenbosch is a treasure of beautifully restored
buildings - elegant Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian architecture
can be seen particularly in historic Dorp Street, which is reminiscent
of the rich and colourful past. Several international businesses
have their headquarters in this historical university town. Just
outside Stellenbosch, nestled between the majestic Simonsberg, Stellenbosch,
Jonkershoek, Twin Peaks and Helderberg mountains, a "clean"
industry settlement has been established at Techno Park. Once a
quiet little village, Techno Park has become a centre for industry,
business and education, as well as the heart of the wine industry.
Wine and the are of winemaking are woven into the
history of Stellenbosch. From its humble beginnings with Simon van
der Stel and the Huguenots, the valley has evolved to becoming the
centre of the Cape's wine industry, and produces some of the finest
wines in the country. The famous Stellenbosch Wine Route, established
in 1971, allows you to enjoy our fabulous local wines while undertaking
entertaining and fun expeditions into the countryside.
Stellenbosch is an amazing place to be. Events
and activities take place throughout the year - music, street, wine
and art festivals delight both young and old. Outdoors enthusiasts
can partake in hiking, mountain climbing, horse riding and cycling,
while sports fans can attend international sporting events.
Stellenbosch has a bustling sidewalk café
scene in the French tradition, excellent restaurants and coffee
shops, modern shopping facilities and a vibrant Nightlife. A peaceful,
cheerful town and its friendly people, a never-ending choice of
entertainment and activities and a breathtaking valley with majestic
mountains embracing it - this is what makes Stellenbosch such a
special tourist and conference destination.