Western Cape DestinationsGenadendal, Cape Overberg
Genadendal is a quaint little historical village just six kilometres outside Greyton - one of the most popular towns to visit in the Western Cape. Genadendal is the oldest Moravian mission village on the continent and at its heart are the original little thatched and predominantly white-walled cottages that first housed Georg Schmidt, the German missionary of the Moravian church who founded the village, and his mission.
Georg Schmidt arrived in the area to evangelise among the Khhoi people as far back as 1738, only to be thrown out by rival Cape Dutch Reformed clergy who did not believe he had the right to baptise converts, after only eight years. It was some 45 years later before the Moravians finally resumed Schmidt's work, and Genadendal grew into one of the largest settlements in the Cape Colony.
History thereafter was heavily influenced by the laws of apartheid, and as a result, the town went into decline. In particular, the outlying community areas are still poverty stricken and in need of assistance.
Today the centre of town is a community project run by locals who make available a museum, an operational water mill, a printing museum, a restaurant, a group of weavers, a bookshop and country-style accommodation to visitors. The original Moravian mission church houses the oldest pipe organ in South Africa. Infront of the church stands the old bell and a collection of oak trees that would have granted shade to those attending church.
Genadendal means Valley of Grace and the surrounding area is indeed beautiful. Unsurprisingly, there is also a hike, known as the Genadendal Hiking Trail, which begins and ends in the little town and winds its way through the Riviersonderend Mountains.
To find out more about Genadendal see the article on our blog at:
• "Visiting Genadendal"