As South Africa’s third oldest town, Paarl should definitely be on your itinerary during Tourism Month in September and is the perfect place to visit on Heritage Day.
One of the best ways to explore Paarl is to take a walking tour through the historic heart of Paarl. Stop at the information office for a map of the main historic points of interest in a self-guided Heritage Route brochure.
Start off your visit by checking in at the Paarl Museum, which was originally built in 1787 as a parsonage. The museum presents a fascinating insight into the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Paarl. The magnificently restored building is in the traditional u-shaped Cape Dutch style and boasts with exhibits reflecting the lifestyles of the San, the early Settlers as well as the wagon-making industry, which made Paarl the centre of the transport industry. The museum also tells the story of the strong Muslim influence on the history of the Boland town. The first mosque was built for Muslim slaves in 1861, while a second was added in 1889.
Visitors can also be swept away to yesteryear with a superb collection of Cape Antique furniture, silver and household items, artefacts, documents and photographs, which reflect development of the town. One of the most impressive items is a replica of King Solomon’s temple hand-crafted from eleven different types of indigenous woods by Ant van der Lingen.
The next stop is the Afrikaans Taal Museum, which pays tribute to all the other languages that contributed to the creation of the world’s youngest language. The impact that Arabic had on creating Afrikaans as a written language is particularly fascinating. Wall displays depict the transformation of the language and how Dutch, German, French, Khoi, Portugese, Malay as well as Nguni and English all played in role in the rich vocabulary of Afrikaans. Interactive voice-overs will provide educational fun for younger visitors, while showcasing the various dialects and musical genres.
No visit to Paarl will be complete without exploring the iconic Language Monument on Paarl Mountain, adjacent to the Paarl Rock, the second largest granite outcrop in the world. This imposing landmark was designed by architect Jan van Wijk to recognise the diverse origins of the Afrikaans language and was officially unveiled in 1975. Take a guided tour to learn more about the symbolism of each architectural element. The beautiful gardens offer a perfect scenic vantage point as well as idyllic picnic spots. Visitors can meander through the open-air green gallery featuring the work of renowned South African poets. The on-site coffee shop also offers refreshments and light meals.
The bustling main road, which at 12km is the longest in the country, is considered to be one of the best preserved historic streets in the country with many original buildings representing different architectural styles. In the heart of this busy street, visitors can once again step back into history by joining Hybre van Niekerk from Paarl Historical Tours. You will receive a guided one kilometre walk of the beautiful main road, focusing on the history, architecture and hidden stories lying beneath the majestic manor houses and buildings.
For the grand finale, visit the KWV Sensorium for the indulgence of a brandy and chocolate pairing. From humble beginnings as a small co-operative of growers in 1918, the company has grown into a global producer and is considered as pioneers in the local wine industry. The Sensorium offers a variety of pairing options with the brandy and chocolate pairing one of the favourites. The tasting venue is also home to an incredible art collection featuring works by artists such as Irma Stern and Pierneef. Viewing of the art and visits to the archives are free to the public in an effort to make the art more accessible and to tell the history of the KWV.
For contact details and information visit www.paarlonline.com / +27 (0) 21 872 4842