This historic town has a vibrant street culture and functions as a living museum. Stellenbosch continues to dominate the South African wine industry in terms of quality due to a variety of soils and locations ideally suited for the flourishing of a vast array of grape cultivars. Stellenbosch continues to be at the forefront of the wine industry's expansion as South African wines gain popularity worldwide. "Discover and explore the over 150 wineries and estates where both wine connoisseurs and novices can sample the fruit of the vine. Sample award-winning wines, unwind, and take in the Winelands' ambiance." The Stellenbosch Winelands, the undisputed Gourmet Capital of South Africa, offers something for every palate. From the most discerning diners to those who enjoy relaxed, sincere hospitality or showcasing the best of "local is lekker," this restaurant caters to all. Or engage in some outdoor activity on one of Stellenbosch's many hiking trails.
The Afrikaans name for Stellenbosch, the second-oldest city in South Africa, is "Eikestad," which translates to "City of Oaks." In addition, the streets are lined with some of the most exquisite examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian, and Victorian architecture still standing. This old section of Stellenbosch, with its secluded lanes, water furrows, cosmopolitan restaurants, and coffee bistros, and magnificent views of mountains, vineyards, and orchards, is a national monument, and exploring it on foot in the morning is an idyllic experience. Stellenbosch is practically synonymous with the wine industry. Not only does it have the oldest and arguably most famous wine route in the country, but it also has one of the most innovative experimental wineries in the world and the only viticulture and oenology departments at a university in the country! Stellenbosch is home to the oldest music school in South Africa, the renowned Stellenbosch Conservatoire, as well as a number of galleries and museums containing national and international art collections.
The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve offers a number of excellent hikes for nature enthusiasts. The relatively new 24-kilometer Vineyard Hiking Trail begins on the slopes of the Papegaaiberg and winds through vineyards, forests, olive groves, and coastal Renosterveld. While many of Stellenbosch's historical structures are nearby, it is possible to explore the city on foot! Behind the Information Bureau is the Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Only one of its kind exists in South Africa! Die Braak, also known as the Town Square, is located near Market Street. The Braak (village green) in Stellenbosch is a two-rugby-field-sized open space. It is adjacent to Bird Street, which has modern shops and offices on one side and the Braak! The first structure we encounter on the northern side of the green is St. Mary's Church, which was constructed in 1852 and is an example of 1850s-era Cape Dutch architecture.
The old VOC Kruithuis, which was constructed in 1877, is the most interesting building to the west. Kruit is the Afrikaans and Dutch word for gunpowder and ammunition, and this building was used by the Dutch East India Company to store local supplies. Its round roof is constructed of bricks, not thatch, to safeguard the ammunition stored within! Outside its main entrance are two cannons from the nineteenth century! The Kruithuis was once located on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, but due to the city's expansion, it is now situated in the heart of the city.
On the southern side of the green, dating back to 1823, is the beautiful old Rhenish Church. On February 5, 1824, missionaries completed and inaugurate its construction. The addition of the northern wing, which faces the Braak, occurred in 1840. The two church bells that hang nearby in the church garden are very intriguing. Both of them still have their Sunday-ringing bell ropes. The lettering on the bells is in German, so they were likely cast in Germany and transported to South Africa! The P. J. Olivier Art Center, which houses an arts education center, is also located on the campus. The majority of the old structures surrounding the Braak have been designated national monuments and, as such, cannot be altered in any way!
Article Courtesy of www.sahistory.org.za/place/stellenbosch-western-cape