Western Cape DestinationsPniel, Cape Winelands
If you have ever driven the R310 from Stellenbosch along Helshoogte, a lovely alternative route through to Franschhoek, then you've passed through the little village of Pniel. Linking the two major wine towns in this way makes for a more than pleasant weekend filled with good food, gorgeous views, and wine enough to fill the boot of your car.
The town of Pniel, nestled at the foot of Simonsberg, lies just outside Stellenbosch. Not only does the little village lie surrounded by vineyards and mountains in one of the most wonderful spots in the Western Cape Province, but its history is very interesting. Pniel started out as 19 hectares of land donated from the farm De Goede Hoop established as a mission settlement for the landless and homeless slaves of 1842 (the British Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 abolished slavery throughout most of the British Empire, including 40 000 slaves in SA).
Today its oak-lined main road is filled with quaint houses, some of the them built for the freed slaves by Sir Herbert Baker (hence the humps in the road, to make sure you take the time to look around you!), whilst its name, which means 'face of God', is taken from Genesis 34 verse 30. In 1843 a further 43 hectares were added to Pniel from the neighbouring farm, Papier Moulen, and the whole area was subdivided into plots and granted to emancipated slave settlers on a permanent tenure basis, to be inherited by their children.
One can organise tours by local residents that include the history and the significance of the 160 year old church.