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Information on Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa

Conference Venues South Africa brings you information on Stellenbosch situated in the Western Cape Province of South Africa including information on history, location, geography, attractions.

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Stellenbosch is situated about 50 kilometers east of Cape Town, along the banks of the Eerste Rivier in the Western Cape province. After Cape Town, it is the second oldest European settlement in the province. The town became known as Eikestad or the City of Oaks due to the large number of oak trees that were planted by Simon van der Stel to grace the homesteads and streets. Stellenbosch is part of the Greater Metroplitan of Cape Town. The town is also home to the University of Stellenbosch. The Technopark is a modern research and corporate complex situated near the Stellenbosch Golf Course on the southern side of the town.

The Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl valleys form the Cape Winelands, the larger of the two main wine growing regions in South Africa. The South African wine industry produces about a billion litres of wine annually. Stellenbosch is the primary location for viticulture research. The Stellenbosch wine route was established in 1971 by Frans Malan from Spatz Sperling, Simonsig from Neil Joubert, and Delheim from Spier is a popular and world renowned tourist destination.

The region has a mediterranean climate with cool wet winters and hot dry summers. Stellenbosch lies at the foot of the Cape Fold mountain range, which provides soil suitable to viticulture. Grapes grown in this area are generally used for wine production, as opposed to table grapes. The region possesses a wide range of soils in the area, from sandy, light soils to decomposed granite. Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is beginning to get a fair reputation as a fine wine.

Stellenbosch History

The town was founded in 1679 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, who named it after himself. It is situated on the banks of the Eerste River, so named as it was the first new river he reached and followed when Jan van Riebeeck sent him from Cape Town on an expedition over the Cape Flats to explore the area towards what is now known as Stellenbosch. The town grew so fast that it became an independent local authority in 1682 and the seat of a magistrate with jurisdiction over 25,000 square kilometers in 1685.

The Dutch were skilled in hydraulic engineering, and they devised a system of furrows to direct water from the Eerste River in the vicinity of Thibault Street through the town along van Riebeeck Street to Mill Street where a mill was erected. Early visitors commented on the oak trees and gardens.

Soon after the first settlers arrived, especially the French Huguenots, grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry. The first school had been opened in 1683, but education in the town began in earnest in 1859 with the opening of a seminary for the Dutch Reformed Church. Rhenish Girls' High School, established in 1860, is the oldest school for girls in South Africa. A gymnasium which was known as het Stellenbossche Gymnasium was established in 1866. In 1874, some higher classes became Victoria College and then in 1918 University of Stellenbosch. The first men's hostel to be established in Stellenbosch was Wilgenhof, in 1903. In 1909, an old boy of the school, Paul Roos, captain of the first national rugby team to be called the Springboks, was invited to become the sixth rector of the school. He remained rector till 1940. On his retirement the school's name was changed to Paul Roos Gymnasium.

In the early days of the Second Boer War Stellenbosch was one of the British military bases, and was used as a remount camp, and in consequence of officers who had not distinguished themselves at the front being sent back to it, the expression to be Stellenbosched came into use, so much so, that in similar cases officers were spoken of as Stellenbosched even if they were sent to some other place.

Stellenbosch Climate and Geography

Stellenbosch is located just 55km to the east of Cape Town. Stellenbosch is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands and is sheltered in a valley at an average elevation of 136m, flanked on the west by Papegaaiberg. The south and east are high mountains, with Stellenbosch Mountain to the south, and Simonsberg, Jonkershoek Mountains and Great Drakenstein Mountains to the east and southeast. Die Tweeling Pieke is a signature peak of the Stellenbosch region, the highest being Victoria Peak.

The soils are dark alluvial to clay soils and combined with the well drained, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate prove ideal for viticulture. Summers are dry and warm to hot, with some February and March days rising to over 30°C. Winters are cool, wet and sometimes quite windy, with daytime temperatures averaging 16°C. Snow is usually seen a couple times in winter on the surrounding mountains. Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons and daytime temperatures hover in the 20°C's.

Stellenbosch Geography

Stellenbosch lies between the slopes of Devil's Peak in the west and the M5 freeway in the east; it is one of the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, which lie along the eastern slope of the Table Mountain massif. The suburb's western border with the Table Mountain National Park is defined by the M3 freeway. To the north are the suburbs of Rosebank and Mowbray, while to the south are Newlands and Claremont. The eastern border of Stellenbosch is the M5 freeway, beyond the freeway are Sybrand Park, Athlone and Stellenbosch East.

The Southern Line railway divides Stellenbosch in two; the only road within Stellenbosch that crosses the railway is the Belmont Road bridge. Main Road runs northsouth through the area west of the railway, while Campground Road runs in the same direction east of the railway. The third north-south through route is Milner Road, further east close to the M5.

The area around the intersection of Main Road and Belmont Road is Stellenbosch's main commercial area, with several small shopping malls and two supermarkets. Also located in this area are Stellenbosch Town Hall, now occupied by the Stellenbosch branch of the City Libraries, and Stellenbosch railway station, which is the main public transport facility in the suburb. A smaller commercial area lies just to the east on the corner of Belmont and Campground Roads, there is also a row of shops along Milner Road in the southeastern part of the suburb. The rest of the suburb is used for educational and residential purposes, with the residential areas being generally denser further to the west where the influence of the University of Cape Town is felt.

Two canalised streams run from the slopes of Table Mountain through Stellenbosch; the Liesbeeck River runs northwards between Main Road and the railway, while the Black River runs in a northeasterly direction through the eastern part of the suburb. The terrain is generally flat east of the railway line, while to the west it slopes upwards towards Devil's Peak.

Towns and Suburbs of the Western Cape province of South Africa

Arniston , Albertinia , Bantry Bay , Bellville , Barrydale , Beaufort West , Bloubergrant , Bloubergstrand , Brackenfell , Caledon , Century City , Ceres , Camps Bay , Cape Town , Citrusdal , Clanwilliam , Claremont , Constantia , Darling, De Rust , De Waterkant , Durbanville , Fish Hoek , Franschhoek , Fresnaye , Gardens , Gordon's Bay , Gansbaai , George , Grabouw , Green Point , Greyton , Hout Bay , Hermanus , Kenilworth , Kleinmond , Knysna , Lakeside , Lambert's Bay , Langebaan , Malgas , McGregor , Melkbosstrand , Milnerton , Morreesburg , Muizenberg , Montagu , Mossel Bay , Mowbray , Newlands , Noordhoek , Observatory , Oranjezicht , Oudtshoorn , Paternoster, Paarl , Parow , Pinelands , Plettenberg Bay , Prince Albert , Pringle Bay , Rawsonville , Robertson , Riebeeck West , Rondebosch , Stellenbosch , Somerset West , Simon's Town , Saldanha , Sea Point , Sir Lowry's Pass , Stanford , St Helena Bay , Strand , Swellendam , Table View , Tokai , Tulbagh , Tygerberg , Uniondale, Vermont , Vredendal , Wellington , Wilderness , Witsand , Worcester , Wynberg , Yzerfontein


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