Western Cape Tourist AttractionsSt Martini Evangelical Lutheran Church
Where? 240 Long Street, Cape Town Central, Cape Town, 8001
How? Call +27 (0)21 423-2720
Established by German immigrants in 1861, St Martini is the first German Lutheran Synod in South Africa. It was built when the Lutheran Church split and a new church, called St Martini the Evangelical Lutheran Church, was erected in Long Street, where it still stands today.
There is a lovely story accompanying the church bells. Originally St Martini had three bells, made by the Friedrich Gruhl foundry in Germany, and shipped to Cape Town (the church was still supervised by the Royal Regional Consistory of Hanover, in Germany at the time).
Only two of the three original bells made for the church survive today. One is called Luther and is the Gebetsglocke, or prayer bell. The smaller Gruhl bell is called Franziska, the Taufglocke, or baptism bell. Both are decorated with the angels synonymous with the foundry.
The bell-making Gruhl foundry was a family-run business in Kleinwelka, Bautzen, in what is today the former East Germany. It made between 1 700 and 2 000 church bells whilst it ran, between 1803 and 1896.
Most of these were destroyed during the two World Wars, but South Africa's bells survived.
Another two Gruhl bells grace the Moravian Church in Genadendal, just outside Greyton, each of which is embellished with four carved heads of angels, a trade mark of the founders. The Moravian missions at Mamre and Enon also each have a Gruhl bell.
Stellenbosch's Dutch Reformed Church had three Gruhl bells. But these were replaced in 1986 and now two of them hang in a bell tower on a farm in Riviersonderend.
The Dom St Petri (St Peter's Cathedral), one of the most important churches in Saxony, lies in Bautzen's old city, directly opposite the Town Hall. It has five Gruhl bells.
St Martini Evangelical Lutheran Church is at 24 Long Street, in the centre of Cape Town. It also runs a German kindergarten and preschool from the premises.