A brief History of Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa since Cape Town is a city. The town was established as far back as 1679, when Simon van der Stel, then governor of the Cape Colony, felt that further supplies of wine and fruit would prove useful to the Dutch East India Company. After moving inland from Cape Town to find fertile soil, van der Stel felt that the mountain valley now known as Stellenbosch, with the Eersterivier flowing through it,would be perfect. Soon afterwards, in 1685, the Dutch Reformed Church founded its second parish to serve the growing community of Stellenbosch.

In 1710, only 30 years after its establishment, a devastating fire destroyed much of Stellenbosch. Further disaster struck in 1803 and in 1875, both fires destroying many of the historical homes of the village once again.

In 1866, what was to become the reputable University of Stellenbosch first opened its doors to students and began a rich history of higher level education for South Africans and International Students alike.

Today Stellenbosch boasts a population of over 100,000 residents, not including students and informal settlements, this number is therefore definitely understated. It is a vibrant town in beautiful surroundings with thriving agricultural, especially viticulture, banking, tourism and technological sectors. The three main languages spoken are Afrikaans, Xhosa and English. In addition to these, a large contingent of foreign residents now call Stellenbosch home.