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Information on Swellendam, Western Cape, South Africa

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

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Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, situated in the Western Cape province. The town has over 50 National monuments most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture. The region has a typically Mediterranean climate. 

The area is a botanist’s dream with a wealth of fynbos and wild flowers. The indigenous forest at Grootvadersbosch is the most noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Woods like these are rare to find in the Cape this far west of the Knysna forests. Wildlife such as the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and Bontebok abound.

There are also Klipspringer, Bushbuck, Grey Rhebuck, Mongoose, Cape Grysbok, Baboon, Genet and the occasional Leopard. Of the impressive 200 species of birds you stand a chance to spot, Crowned eagle, Waterfowl, the black eagle, Narina Trogon, Knysna Woodpecker and the Paradise Flycatcher. The town is situated at the foot of the Langeberg, and there are many hiking trails.

Swellendam History

Early travellers and explorers who visited the Cape in the 16th century traded with the Khoikhoi tribe who lived on these shores. When the Dutch East India Company established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam.

In 1743, Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. This remote outpost soon became a gateway to the interior and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers including François Le Vaillant, Lady Anne Barnard, William John Burchell  and Bowler. In time, a village was established opposite the Drostdy, where artisans including several wainwrights and traders settled. To travellers and explorers, the services of the village residents were invaluable, as Swellendam was the last outpost of civilization on the eastern frontier.

By 1795 mismanagement and inadequacies of the Dutch East India Company caused the patient burghers of Swellendam to revolt, and in 1795, they declared themselves a Republic. Hermanus Steyn was appointed as President of the Republic of Swellendam, he was the first to be appointed the position of President in South Africa. But the Republic was brief due to the occupation of the Cape by the Kingdom of Great Britain. With the arrival of British settlers in the early 19th century the Overberg boomed, and its capital, Swellendam, was soon the centre of the famous mercantile firm of Barry and Nephews, created by Joseph Barry.

By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts had been colonized by the British settlers and Swellendam was a thriving metropolis. The town served as a valuable refreshment stop on the long, slow journey up the coast. Today Swellendam is a flourishing agricultural area and has many beautiful and historic buildings which serve as a reminder of its dramatic history. The first known depiction of Swellendam was of the Drostdy, by Johannes Schumacher in 1776, when he accompanied the son of Governor Swellengrebel to the town. Today the Drostdy forms part of a museum complex that consist of several heritage sites.

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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