Western Cape Tourist AttractionsHuguenot Memorial Museum
Where? Huguenot Monument, Franschhoek, Cape Winelands
How? Call +27 (0)21 876-2532
The story of the Huguenot Memorial Museum is quite fascinating, and lends the building and its contents a certain charm and intrigue. In the 1700ís, the Saasveld building was the home of Baron Willem Ferdinand van Reede van Oudtshoorn, who built it in 1791. His estate was in what is now the City Bowl of Cape Town, at the foot of Table Mountain and Signal Hill. However, in 1957, the Dutch Reformed Church won the appeal to demolish the building (to replace it with a youth hostel), despite its history and heritage ties.
So, it was decided to move the entire structure, numbered brick by numbered brick, to another location. And what better spot than alongside the Huguenot Monument in the nearby village of Franschhoek? Each brick was placed precisely where it had been in the original building, which was designed by famous French architect, Louis Michel Thibault. It took ten years to complete entirely, and the museum was reopened in 1967.
Today, it is open seven days a week, and offers its visitors the opportunity to learn about the French Huguenots before their arrival in South Africa, the challenges they faced getting here, their lives and customs and the effect they had on modern South African culture. The exhibition includes original silverware, furniture, bibles, and even documents. The artefacts and remnants of their lives provide such interesting peeks into what they did and how they lived, making the visit to this museum a very special, personal one.
There are lovely gardens at the Huguenot Memorial Museum, and visitors are invited to bring along a picnic basket and enjoy the loveliness of Franschhoek, which is one of the main towns of the Cape Winelands. Cape Town and all of its world-renowned tourist attractions are only about 70 kilometres away, as is the Cape Town International Airport.