Pella, Namaqualand

Probably one of the most beautiful provincial cathedrals in the country is at Pella, an oasis bedecked with palm dates close to Pofadder.

This beautiful golden building has quite a story attached to it. It was built by a couple of French missionaries, based out here in the midst of intense heat and isolation (enough to have already thwarted at least three similar missionaries who had finally returned home).

Brother Leo Wolf and Father Simon first set up gardens and planted crops before tackling the church. Which was probably just as well, as they were to take seven years to build without any plans a cathedral they saw in a picture in a book, believe to be the Encyclopedie des Arts et Metiers.

Their bricks were fired up at the Orange River, almost 10 kilometres away, whilst the limestone had to be brought by ox wagon from 160 km away and then restored with water from the oasis at Pella. Everything was made here, even the iron staircase, forged by two priests at Pella.

Brother Wolf died here only in 1947 and is buried in the church he built. Together with Father Simon (later Bishop Simon) he was to serve the community for 50 years.

Today the resident nuns will show you around the tiny museums next door to the cathedral, and the strikingly yellow, and cool (it gets hot here), cathedral. But there is more to Pella than a mere cathedral.

Pella is utterly serene. Date palms, sharp mountains, figs, grapes and sweet potatoes (the remnants of Brother Wolf's garden) and the settlement that grew up around the mission station. Today there is a handful of shacks, a few sandy roads and a couple of brick buildings.

The Kultuur Koffie Kroeg is a coffee shop that stands on the corner of the road that swings into Pella, run by a local woman, Christina Jannickes (Ouma Toekoes), and her daughters. You'll sit on the trunks of trees for stools, and your coffee will brew over an open fire in the back yard. And you can also stay in one of the traditional domed reed matjieshuis huts.

Now, why wouldn't you visit?

Travellers' Reviews

1 Review from travellers. All reviews are verified.

Verified reviewexcellent

We chanced upon Pella on a touring holiday in +- 2005 and will never forget this enchanting place. The approaching area was immaculate with little cottages, well kept flowering gardens and then the Cathedral in a large square reminiscent of a South American movie. A wedding party was just arriving and we were invited to join them but time prevented us from doing so. We were met by one of the resident nuns who showed us around the their rooms, the grounds and the exhibition of the most exquisitely embroidered regalia, and then the now emptied Cathedral. Time ran out for us as our onward journey was a long one but I hope, one day, to return to this magical place.

C j (Pinetown, KZN)

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