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LOCAL TIME: 07:20 am | Wednesday, 24 April
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Paarl Historic Walk

Paarl Historic Walk

Paarl is the third oldest town in South Africa and its rich history is reflected in the buildings, many of them National Monuments, found along a stretch of the Main Road just under 2km long.

Many of these old buildings have in recent years been renovated and converted into businesses, but just as many are still homes. Any conversions to old building have to be cleared by the Paarl Aesthetic Society and this serves to protect the unique character of Paarl’s historic Main Road.

The Paarl Main Road houses many restaurants, coffee shops and pubs  and these are perfect places to stop and experience the hospitality that Paarl is known for.

Remember to look left and right into all the side streets. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Walking North down the Main Road, starting from Brug Street, you’re first met with a line of Georgian style buildings on the left.

Just past this row on the left is the historic Het Gesticht church, built in 1812 as place of worship for slaves in the area.

Carrying on along the Main Road one comes to the Oude Paarl Boutique Hotel, housed in two national monument buildings dating back to the 18th century.

Across the road is Klein Vredenburg Guest House, a Cape Dutch inspired Georgian building dating back to 1812.

Walking further along the Main Road, you’ll come to the Strooidakkerk (Thatch Roof Curch), built in 1804 and still the oldest church in use in South Africa. It was after the establishment of this church that the town of Paarl began to grow in earnest. In the adjacent churchyard, one can find the biggest collection of gabled burial vaults in the Western Cape.

Across the road is the Pastorie, and whereas it may look old, it was only built in 1965, albeit with a replica of the original facade.

Further up the road is Zederberg Plein, which housed a small park and a row of Victorian Style houses, many of which were converted from Cape Dutch Style to suit the fashion of the time.

Carrying on up the Main Road about 150 metres and you will come to the Press Building on the right hand side of the road. Described as Dutch Renaissance Revival, it is one of the more unique buildings in Paarl, with its distinctive paint work and turrets.

Just past the Press Building is Cafe Juno, housed in an old Cape Dutch Style building with a thatched roof. This is a great place to have something to eat, have a glass of wine or one of their German beers.

Next door to Cafe Juno is the Zomerlust Guest House, the building itself having strong ties to the Paarl Brandy industry. At the rear of the building is a garden in which the Kontreihuis Restaurant is situated.

Die Kraan Lady’s Bar is inside the Zomerlust building and the name alludes to a legend that in earlier years, a tap ran from the Brandy Distillery across the road into the bar.

No doubt a favourite of the guests.

Across the road is Huis Vergenoegd, built in 1899, it is today an old age home.

On the other side of the street is the beautiful Victorian Cross Building which houses Kikka, a very popular restaurant where people can enjoy their meals while sitting on the pavement.

Neigbouring the Cross Building is Huis Wenhold, which was previously known as the Zuidmeer building. This building was in its time home to wagon makers, various tailors, a dental surgery and a kindergarten. Today it houses a deli, accountants, a ceramics studio and two flats.

On the opposite side of Patriot Street is the Patriot Building which played an important role in the development of Afrikaans.

Next to the Patriot Building a new Post Office, with prison cells, was built in the early 20th century.

About 100m down the road, on the left is Paarl’s Anglican Church.

Just on the other side of Market Street, on the left is Paarl’s Town hall. It was built in 1928 from granite mined from local quarries. It was painted white to contrast with the dark mountain behind it.

Further down the Main Road on the right one comes to probably the most well known Art Deco building in Paarl, the Protea. It was built in 1939 and served as Paarl’s only cinema for many years. Today it is a church.

Passing the hardware store and dentists offices on the right, one comes to one of Paarl’s more interesting buildings, Dwars-in-die-Weg, which straddles Main Street and Pastorie Avenue. It was built in 1946 and has recently been converted and renovated to have a more contemporary look.

Places to have a light refreshment at Dwars-in-die-Weg include Die Eethuis restaurant or Bean in Love coffeeshop, which is housed in what was once a cane furniture factory, dating back to the 1800s.

If one follows the road about 150m further, one comes to the Gimnasium Primary School (Kleingim), established in 1858. The building itself is one of the more interesting buildings in town with its Egyptian theme and reliefs of Egyptian mythology on the tower.

Across the road is the Toringkerk which was built in 1875. This impressive building is one of the most recognizable in Paarl with its tower, measuring 57 metres, one of the tallest in the country.

In a town with as rich a history as Paarl you shouldn’t be surprised to know that these are by no means the only historic buildings in the area. Just off the Main Street there are many other interesting houses. An example is the Afrikaanse Taalmuseum which is housed in Malherbe House which is where Afrikaans had its origin.

Many more interesting houses are to be found on the surrounding Wine farms and other areas of the town.

Most of the well known schools such as La Rochelle and Boys High are worth a visit.

A nostalgic walk down the Main street of Paarl is good for the mind, good for the soul and good for your legs!

Take your time and stop for a drink or just amble along taking in the beautiful sights.

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