Graaff-Reinet … where history continues to live …
Established in 1786 Graaff-Reinet is named after Cornelis Jacob van de Graaf and his wife Cornelia Reynet, and is one of only two towns in South Africa that is named after Dutch governors.
Graaff-Reinet is situated in the Sarah Baartman region of the Eastern Cape and is a unique and historical town that is almost completely surrounded by Camdeboo National Park. Neatly placed in a curl of the Sundays River, it is the fourth oldest settlement in the country.
Once a vast inland sea, the Karoo is known for its fossils and has a largely unbroken 50-million-year fossil record reflecting the evolutionary pathways and patterns of different animal groups through time. A very popular and extensive collection of fossils collected over a period of 18 years is displayed in the Old Library Museum.
The town is filled with historical buildings, restored pre-Victorian homes and a collection of museums and galleries, each exceptionally charming in telling its own story. With over 200 buildings claimed as National Monuments and an entire street restored, including its slave cottages, Graaff-Reinet has retained much of the character of a typical 19th century town.
Two famous people associated with Graaff-Reinet are powerful founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Sobukwe and billionaire Anton Rupert who helped restore and build his hometown.
Graaff-Reinet is filled with many talented artists which is clearly revealed in the colourful displays of paintings and pottery, along with many other artistic creations. Graaff-Reinet is home to the Hester Rupert Museum of Contemporary Art which features famous South African artists.
One of the renowned landmarks in Graaff-Reinet has to be the Drostdy Hotel, which dates back to 1806. Built on the original site of residence of the landdrost, the hotel has been restored to an excellent mix of old and new in what can only be described as classically charming.
Specialized tours are available in the town which will take you through the history and livelihood of everything that makes Graaff-Reinet the “gem of the Karoo”. The tours include township walkabouts, fossil studies, rock art and Boer War Monuments, along with brilliant game viewing.
Graaff-Reinet bustles with tourists, farmers and locals in a lovely blend of friendliness and vibrancy – a treat to explore for many visitors …
For more information on Graaff-Reinet visit Eastern Cape Info.