Donkin Heritage Trail, Port Elizabeth
The Donkin Heritage Trail in Port Elizabeth is a 5 kilometre trail that follows in the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers, linking 47 historical sites in central Port Elizabeth, the Donkin Heritage Trail is a joy to anyone who loves historical tours, and even those who don’t, as the rich history is not only charming but quite fascinating.
The Donkin Heritage Trail is named after the Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, Sir Rufane Donkin. South Africans are well acquainted with the history of the 4000 British settlers who arrived by ship and visitors can walk in their footsteps in the Old Hill area of Port Elizabeth. One doesn’t even need a tour guide to walk the trail as the route is very conveniently sign posted making self-guided tours possible.
The trail begins with a walk around the central city market Square, the centrepiece of which is the City Hall, which dates from 1858. In the square also stands a replica of the Diaz Cross, commemorating the first European to sail into Algoa Bay in 1488, when Bartholomew Diaz graced our shores.
Part of the trail includes the Donkin Houses and the Donkin Reserve - the Donkin street houses run along the side of the reserve - whilst the library building, a gorgeous example of Victorian Gothic architecture, is on the corner of Market Square. Number 7 Castle Hill, which claims to be one of the oldest surviving settler cottages in the city, and Pembridge house all form part of the historical amble. Don’t attempt the Campanile unless you’re feeling particularly sprightly, as the spiral staircase entails 204 steps - well worth conquering if only for the views over Algoa Bay.
Other buildings and monuments of interest include the King George VI art gallery, an open air theatre, a conservatory, numerous churches and an opera house - all within walking distance of the Donkin houses.
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