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Ou Hoofgebou 1.JPG
Voorgelegen 3.JPG
Powder Magazine 5.JPG
From top, Stellenbosch, South Africa's second-oldest urban area (town), with Great Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Mountains beyond. Ou Hoofgebou, the former administrative building for the University of Stellenbosch (centre left). Stellenbosch Town Hall (centre right). Voorgelegen, a historic building in the town centre (bottom left). The old VOC Power Magazine (bottom right).
Eikestad ("City of Oaks")
South Africa Western Cape relief location map.svg
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South Africa relief location map.svg
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Coordinates: 33°56′12″S18°51′41″E / 33.93667°S 18.86139°E / -33.93667; 18.86139 Coordinates: 33°56′12″S18°51′41″E / 33.93667°S 18.86139°E / -33.93667; 18.86139
Country Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
Province Western Cape
District Cape Winelands
Municipality Stellenbosch
  Total10.12 km2 (3.91 sq mi)
136 m (446 ft)
 (2011) [1]
  Density2,200/km2 (5,600/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
   White 66.6%
   Coloured 15.8%
   Black African 15.0%
   Indian/Asian 0.9%
First languages (2011)
   Afrikaans 70.4%
   English 20.8%
   Xhosa 1.8%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box
Area code 021

Stellenbosch ( /ˈstɛlənbɒʃ/ ; [2] Afrikaans:  [ˈstælənˌbɔs] ) [3] [4] is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, situated about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Cape Town, along the banks of the Eerste River at the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountain. The town became known as the City of Oaks or Eikestad in Afrikaans and Dutch due to the large number of oak trees that were planted by its founder, Simon van der Stel, to grace the streets and homesteads. [5]


Stellenbosch has its own municipality (incorporating the neighbouring towns of Pniel and Franschhoek), adjoining the metropolitan area of the City of Cape Town. The town is home to Stellenbosch University. Technopark is a modern science park situated on the southern side of the town near the Stellenbosch Golf Course. [ citation needed ]


Paleolithic biface from Stellenbosch Biface Stellenbosch MHNT PRE 2009.0.195.1 Global fond.jpg
Paleolithic biface from Stellenbosch

In 1899 Louis Péringuey discovered Paleolithic stone tools of the Acheulean type at a site named Bosman's Crossing near the Adam Tas Bridge at the western entrance to Stellenbosch. [6] [7]


Typical Cape Dutch style house in Stellenbosch Bletterman House (corner view).JPG
Typical Cape Dutch style house in Stellenbosch

The town was founded in 1679 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, who named it after himself [8] – Stellenbosch means "(van der) Stel's Bush". It is situated on the banks of the Eerste River ("First River"), so named as it was the first new river he reached and followed when he went on an expedition over the Cape Flats to explore the territory towards what is now known as Stellenbosch. The town grew so quickly that it became an independent local authority in 1682 and the seat of a magistrate with jurisdiction over 25,000 square kilometers (9,700 sq mi) in 1685. [9]

The Dutch were skilled in hydraulic engineering and they devised a system of furrows to direct water from the Eerste River in the vicinity of Thibault Street through the town along van Riebeeck Street to Mill Street where a mill was erected. [10] [11] Early visitors commented on the oak trees and gardens. [5] [12]

During 1690 some Huguenot refugees settled in Stellenbosch, [13] grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry. [10]

In 1710 a fire destroyed most of the town, including the first church, all the Company property and twelve houses. Only two or three houses were left standing. [14] When the church was rebuilt in 1723 it was located on what was then the outskirts of the town, to prevent any similar incident from destroying it again. This church was enlarged a number of times since 1723 and is currently known as the "Moederkerk" (Mother Church).

The first school had been opened in 1683, but education in the town began in earnest in 1859 with the opening of a seminary for the Dutch Reformed Church. Rhenish Girls' High School, established in 1860, is the oldest school for girls in South Africa. [15] A gymnasium, known as het Stellenbossche Gymnasium, was established in 1866. In 1874 some higher classes became Victoria College and then in 1918 University of Stellenbosch. The first men's hostel to be established in Stellenbosch was Wilgenhof, in 1903. In 1905 the first women's hostel to be established in Stellenbosch was Harmonie . [16] Harmonie and Wilgenhof were part of the Victoria College. In 1909 an old boy of the school, Paul Roos, captain of the first national rugby team to be called the Springboks, was invited to become the sixth rector of the school. He remained rector until 1940. On his retirement, the school's name was changed to Paul Roos Gymnasium.

In the early days of the Second Boer War (1899–1902) Stellenbosch was one of the British military bases, and was used as a "remount" camp; and in consequence of officers who had not distinguished themselves at the front being sent back to it, the expression "to be Stellenbosched" came into use; so much so, that in similar cases officers were spoken of as "Stellenbosched" even if they were sent to some other place.[ citation needed ]


At the time of the 2011 census, the population of the urban area of Stellenbosch was 77,476 people in 23,730 households, in an area of 20.9 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi). A total of 50% of the residents spoke Afrikaans as their home language, 28% spoke isiXhosa, and 8% spoke English. (10% of the residents, principally those in student residences, were not asked their language.) 37% of the population identified themselves as "Black African", 35% as "Coloured", and 26% as "White". [1]

The Stellenbosch Municipality extends beyond the town of Stellenbosch itself to include rural areas, villages, and the town of Franschhoek. At the time of the 2011 census, the municipal population was 155,728, while by 2016 it was estimated to be 173,197. [17] In 2017, the municipality estimated that the population in 2018 would increase to 176,523 [18]

The 1936 census recorded a total population of 8,782 residents with 3,558 of them recorded as Coloured and 4,995 recorded as White. [19]

Climate and geography

Stellenbosch's eastern suburbs in the winter months. In the background are the snowcapped Jonkershoek Mountains, with the prominent peak "The Twins" (elevation of 1,494 m (4,902 ft)) visible. Stellenbosch WC ZA.jpg
Stellenbosch's eastern suburbs in the winter months. In the background are the snowcapped Jonkershoek Mountains, with the prominent peak "The Twins" (elevation of 1,494 m (4,902 ft)) visible.

Stellenbosch is 53 km (33 mi) east of Cape Town via National Route N1. Stellenbosch is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands, and is sheltered in a valley at an average elevation of 136 m (446 ft), flanked on the west by Papegaaiberg (Afrikaans : Parrot Mountain), which is actually a hill.[ citation needed ] To the south is Stellenbosch Mountain; to the east and southeast are the Jonkershoek, Drakenstein, and Simonsberg mountains.[ citation needed ] Die Tweeling Pieke (Afrikaans : The Twin Peaks) has an elevation of 1,494 m (4,902 ft); the highest point is Victoria Peak 1,590 m (5,220 ft). Jonkershoek Nature Reserve lies about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Stellenbosch, and the Helderberg Nature Reserve is about 23 km (14 mi) south via provincial route R44.[ citation needed ] Just south of the Helderberg Nature Reserve is Strand, a seaside resort town.[ citation needed ] The soils of Stellenbosch range from dark alluvium to clay.[ citation needed ] This, combined with the well-drained, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate, prove excellent for viticulture.[ citation needed ] Summers are dry and warm to hot, with some February and March days rising to over 40 °C (104 °F).[ citation needed ] Winters are cool, rainy and sometimes quite windy, with daytime temperatures averaging 16 °C (61 °F).[ citation needed ] Snow is usually seen a couple of times in winter on the surrounding mountains.[ citation needed ] Spring and autumn are colder seasons, when daytime temperatures hover in the 20s.[ citation needed ]

Climate data for Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Average high °C (°F)25.7
Average low °C (°F)11.6
Average precipitation mm (inches)23
Source: Stellenbosch climate


Stellenbosch is a warm weather training venue for cyclists, track and field squads, and triathletes. The Stellenbosch Sports Academy opened its doors in 2012 and hosts several rugby teams on a permanent basis, such as the Springbok Sevens and Western Province.[ citation needed ]

Viticulture and winemaking

Vineyards on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, with Helderberg in the background Stellenbosch Vineyard.jpg
Vineyards on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, with Helderberg in the background

The Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek valleys form the Cape Winelands, the larger of the two main wine growing regions in South Africa. The South African wine industry produces about 1,000,000,000 litres of wine annually. Stellenbosch is the primary location for viticulture and viticulture research. Professor Perold was the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. The Stellenbosch Wine Route established in 1971 by Frans Malan from Simonsig, Spatz Sperling from Delheim, Neil Joubert from Spier and David van Velden from Overgaauw, known as Stellenbosch American Express® Wine Routes since 2002, is a world-renowned and popular tourist destination. This route provides visitors the opportunity to experience a wide range of cultivars and includes farms such as Warwick and JC Le Roux. [20]

The region has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cool wet winters. Stellenbosch lies at the foot of the Cape Fold mountain range, which provides soil favourable to viticulture. Grapes grown in this area are mainly used for wine production, as opposed to table grapes. The region possesses a wide range of soils in the area, from light, sandy soils to decomposed granite. Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is beginning to get a good reputation as a fine wine. [21]

Stellenbosch University

Eerste River in Stellenbosch after heavy rains Eerste River from De Oewer.JPG
Eerste River in Stellenbosch after heavy rains
View over the "Red Square" of Stellenbosch University with the peak, "The Twins" beyond UniStellenbosch.jpg
View over the "Red Square" of Stellenbosch University with the peak, "The Twins" beyond

Stellenbosch University is one of South Africa's leading universities.[ citation needed ] This institution has a rich history dating back to 1863 and has 10 faculties, including Engineering, Commerce, Science and Arts.[ citation needed ] The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering is the only university department in the southern hemisphere which has successfully built a communications satellite Sunsat which was launched in 2000 and orbited the earth for three years.[ citation needed ]

The University currently has about 29,000 students. White students in 2014, namely 18 636, constitute 63.4% of all students enrolled. [22] Although the official language of the university is Afrikaans, most post-graduate courses are presented in English. The university is in the process of introducing more English centered undergraduate courses following mass protest by the student body. The university council with the concurrence of the senate approved a new language policy on 22 June 2016 for implementation from 1 January 2017. Since the campuses are situated in the Western Cape, the university has committed to introducing multilingualism by using the province’s three official languages, namely Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa. [23]

List of suburbs

A panorama of Stellenbosch, as seen from Papegaaiberg Stellenbosch fan Papagaaiberch grut.jpg
A panorama of Stellenbosch, as seen from Papegaaiberg
Bird Street, Stellenbosch Central Bird Street Stellenbosch.jpg
Bird Street, Stellenbosch Central
The township of Kayamandi located on the outskirts of Stellenbosch Kayamandi Stellenbosch.jpg
The township of Kayamandi located on the outskirts of Stellenbosch
View of Nuutgevonden Estate, Cloetesville and Welgevonden Estate in the foreground and the Simonsberg Mountain in the background Simonsberg Stellenbosch.jpg
View of Nuutgevonden Estate, Cloetesville and Welgevonden Estate in the foreground and the Simonsberg Mountain in the background
  • Annandale
  • Arbeidslus
  • Brandwacht
  • Cloetesville
  • Coetzenburg
  • Dalsig
  • Dennesig
  • De Zalze
  • De Novo
  • Devon Valley
  • Die Boord, previously Rhodes Fruit Farms
  • Die Rant
  • Ida's Valley
  • Jamestown
  • Jonkershoek
  • Karindal
  • Kayamandi
  • Klapmuts
  • Koelenhof
  • Krigeville
  • Kylemore
  • Welbedaght
  • La Colline
  • Lanquedoc
  • Meerlust
  • Mostertsdrift
  • Onderpapegaaiberg, also known as Voëltjiesdorp
  • Paradyskloof
  • Plankenberg
  • Pniel
  • Raithby
  • Rozendal
  • Simondium
  • Simonsrust
  • Simonswyk
  • Techno Park
  • Tennantville
  • Town central
  • Uniepark
  • Universiteitsoord
  • Vlottenburg
  • Weides
  • Welbedaght
  • Welgevonden

List of schools

Notable people

Coats of arms

The municipality currently uses a badge [24] consisting of a fleur de lis and a cross issuing from a stylised bunch of grapes. In the past, the various local authorities used coats of arms.

Stellenbosch Divisional Council coat of arms (1970) Arms of the Divisional Council of Stellenbosch, WC, ZA.svg
Stellenbosch Divisional Council coat of arms (1970)

See also

Related Research Articles

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Stellenbosch Mountain is a mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The mountain forms part of the Coetsenburg Estate, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve and the larger Hottentots-Holland Mountains Catchment Area.

Coetsenburg is an historic wine estate and one of the oldest estates in South Africa, established in 1682. It is located at the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountain, which forms part of the estate, in the town of Stellenbosch, 31 miles (50 km) east of Cape Town, in the Cape Winelands of the Western Cape Province. The estate has historically been owned by the Coetsee family and is currently not open to the public. The north-western portion of the original estate is now the Coetsenburg Sports Grounds which belongs to the University of Stellenbosch.

Dirk Coetzee/Coetsee was the Hoofdheemraad (Chancellor) of the District of Stellenbosch and Drakenstein in South Africa for most of the 1690s and early 1700s. He also served as captain of the Stellenbosch Infantry and deacon of the Stellenbosch Moederkerk at different points in time. As captain of the Stellenbosch Infantry, which comprised mostly Huguenots, he provided military backing for a rebellion which began in 1706 against the Governor of the Cape Colony, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, whom the vrijburghers had accused of tyranny, corruption and racketeering. Coetsee was imprisoned in the dungeon of the Castle of Good Hope along with the other leaders of the Huguenots but he was released after a year. The rebellion ultimately succeeded in 1707 when the Dutch East India Company recalled the Governor and other colonial officials. An account of the rebellion is vividly described in the "Diary of Adam Tas".


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  24. Stellenbosch
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  27. changes
  28. new coat of arms
  29. 1 2 3 National Archives of South Africa: Data of the Bureau of Heraldry