Paarl Travel Guide

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Paarl Language Monument

50 km north-east of Cape Town, Paarl is one of the three oldest European settlements in South Africa. Here in 1687, on the banks of the Berg River, farmlands were given to Dutch settlers, just 30 years after Jan van Riebeeck's landing at the Cape. The fertile ground and the Mediterranean climate provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and above all, vineyards.

A unique attraction near Paarl is the futuristic "Afrikaanse Taalmonument" ("taal" meaning "language"). It symbolizes the development of Afrikaans into a language of its own. The Dutch teacher Arnoldus Pannevis played an important part in this process. He observed that most of the South Africans who came from Holland could not speak their original mother tongue anymore. In the course of its, then 200 year old history, the language of the immigrants from the Netherlands had thoroughly changed through the influence of other European immigrants as well as Hottentots and especially Malays. In 1875, Afrikaans was declared an autonomous language.

150 years later Paarl began flourishing.

The town takes its name from a massive granite rock intrusion that appears to shine like a pearl when the sun strikes it at a certain angle.

The Paarl Museum (formerly Oude Pastorie) that lies on the Main Street is the place to get information on the history of Paarl and the area.

Paarl, with its 75.000 inhabitants, is today the biggest town in the Cape Winelands. It is, like most of the towns in the region, a prosperous community with many well maintained mansions, pretty Cape Dutch houses, beautiful gardens and old oak trees. There are many wine estates situated in the valleys, which are among the best in the country, foremost the famous Nederburg estate.

The Afrikaans Taalmonument was constructed according to the drawings of the architect Jan van Wyk. He described its symbolic meaning as follows: "Afrikaans is die taal, wat vir Wes-Europa en Afrika verbind. Dit vorm 'n brug tussen die groot helder Weste en die magiese Afrika." (Afrikaans is the language that connects western Europe and Africa. It forms a bridge between the great light West and magic Africa.)

Activities

Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, especially noted for the enormous 500 million year-old granite rock (Paarl, Bretagne & Gordon) that gives Paarl its name. The Afrikaans Language Monument, on the slopes of Paarl Mountain and the Afrikaans Language Museum situated in the town. Treasure house of South African architecture along a 2 km stretch of the Main Street. The Paarl Museum is a must for its Cape Antiques and contemporary exhibitions of Paarl. The Ikhwezi Centre is the home to Bhabhathane weavers and artists from Mbekweni. In the Arboretum there are 700 indigenous and exotic species of trees. A footbridge across the Berg River gives access to paved walkways on the river bank. The Bird Sanctuary along the banks of the Berg River features 136 species of birds. Species include the beautiful Malachite Kingfisher, Maccoa Duck, African Marsh Harrier & African Fish eagle. Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm Butterfly World Lion Park

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