Western Cape Tourist AttractionsDorp Street
Where? Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
Dorp Street is a particularly delightful, and historically rich, road along which to wander when in Stellenbosch. If you enjoy walking (and who doesn't like to stroll through a country village) then this part of the 'old town' of Stellenbosch with its period buildings is a popular choice.
Oak-lined (settlers in Stellenbosch were asked to plant oak trees wherever they could in town, which is why Stellenbosch was also known as 'oak town'), leafy, and emitting a consistent old-world charm, Dorp Street is a perfect blend of historical buildings, artsy boutiques, museums, galleries, delis, coffee shops and restaurants (The Big Easy, Dorp St Deli and Gino's - off along a side street).
It isn't just a pretty face, either. Dorp Street has a number of claims to fame. It is one of the longest rows of surviving old buildings of any major town in southern Africa, the second oldest road in the country, and its length is a national monument.
If you trace its history, Dorp Street was originally known simply as 'the wagon road to the Cape' with plots first appearing along its length in 1710. Over the years it accumulated a variety of architectural styles, from Cape Dutch to Victorian, much of which has been recently, and generously, restored.
Buildings worth looking out for include: the Oude Leeskamer (now a guesthouse), the Verbatim Bookstore (a one-time funeral parlour), the university's art gallery (once a Lutheran church designed by Carl Otto Hager), Oom Samie se Winkel, which remains a trading store in the same vein as its original function, the Stellenbosch Hotel, Vredelust Homestead and the Krige Cottages, and La Gratitude - built in 1798 for the minister of the Dutch Reformed Church and described by Herbert Baker as 'the most beautiful domestic architecture in the world' (now the Big Easy wine bar and restaurant owned by Ernie Els).
At the bottom end of Dorp Street, just before the R310, tucked down Stellentia Road, is the more modern (but influenced by period architecture) Rupert Museum with possibly one of the best collections of South African art in the country.