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History of Paarl


The history of the area started in 1657, when Abraham Gabemma, public treasurer of the new Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, was searching for additional meat resources. He saw a giant granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it "de Diamondt en de Parelberg" (Diamond and Pearl Mountain). Later, the word "diamond" disappeared from the name and it became known simply at Pearl Rock or Pearl Mountain (also being called Tortoise Mountain by the original land inhabitants – the Khoikhoi tribe).View of Paarl Mountain


Then, in 1687, just 35 years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape, land for farms was given to some Dutch settlers on the banks of the Berg River nearby. The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and above all vineyards, which today produce some of the best red wines in the world.


Thus the city became known as Paarl (derived from Parel, meaning Pearl in Dutch). It is the third oldest European settlement in South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch) and has a population of over 150,000 which makes it the biggest town in the Cape Winelands District.


Like many towns in the Cape Winelands, Paarl is home to a prosperous community, with many well maintained and attractive Cape Dutch houses, beautiful gardens and streets lined with old oak trees.


The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings (dating back to the 17th and 19th Century), scenic drives, hiking trails and the Paarl wine route, with its many wine tasting opportunities and excellent restaurants that offer culinary delights that cater for every taste and fit any budget. It is also a home to the oldest church building in SA that is still in use (built in 1805), the Strooidak (straw roof) Church.


One of the unique attractions of the town is the one of a kind "Afrikaanse Taalmonument" (the monument to the Afrikaans language) on the slopes of Paarl Mountain. Erected in 1975, it is the only language monument in the world. 

Taal  Monument, Paarl


The former headquarters of the wine industry in South Africa is also situated here. This was the famous "Co-operative Wine Growers' Association" (better known by its Afrikaans initials KWV). The KWV became a South African institution that has acquired an international reputation based on its unique achievements and its imprint of quality in the local wine industry.


Paarl is furthermore the venue for a number of annual events such as the Nederburg Wine Auction, the Festival of the Vine, Paarl Nouveau Wine Festival, Chrysanthemum Show, Sparkling Wine Festival, the KWV Berg River Canoe Marathon, the Paarl Young Wine Show, Paarl College Carnival, the Boland Agricultural Show, Boland Bank Cycle Race, the Berg River "Anything that Floats" carnival, the Boxing Day Sports and the annual Interschools Rugby Festival between Paarl Boys' High and Gymnasium High School which attracts nationwide interest that rivals the spirit of any intervarsity.


In short - Paarl is a town to visit for a host of different reasons! We are looking forward to welcoming you to our picturesque valley in the Cape Winelands District.










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