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Stellenbosch: Beauty and history

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Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in the country and offers a variety of housing stock, Winelands right on your doorstep, heritage and plenty of glorious natural attractions

When Governor Simon van der Stel went exploring beyond the limits of the then Cape Colony, he imaginatively called the first new river he came across Eerste River. In 1679 he named the area on its banks after himself – Stellenbosch.

He planted the oak trees for which the town is famous, earning it the moniker “Eikestad”, or City of Oaks. 

Stellenbosch was all but destroyed by a fire in 1710, and  only two or three houses were left standing. For some perspective, however, only about 12 succumbed to the flames. The first church was also destroyed by the fire, and was rebuilt in 1723 on the outskirts of town to avoid a repeat of the disaster. Known as the Moederkerk (mother church), it has been enlarged several times  and still stands at the end of Church Street.

Stellenbosch lies in a valley about 50km from Cape Town, surrounded by the Papegaaiberg, Stellenbosch Mountain, Jonkershoek, Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountains. The Helshoogte Pass links it to Franschhoek. 

The vineyards and farmlands are ridiculously picturesque, and the charming town – home to one of South Africa’s top universities – evokes a feeling of being somewhere else entirely, rather than less than an hour’s drive from the big city of Cape Town.

Pierre Germishuys, managing director of Seeff Winelands/Boland, says Stellenbosch is one of the most sought-after winelands towns in the country: “It carries a notable status, whether you live or study here. Of course, if you can own a property, especially a historic home or a wine farm, all the better.”

Prices do tend to be a little on the high side of average, but there is a range of property to suit every lifestyle and budget. – Pierre Germishuys, Managing Director Seeff Winelands/Boland Picture: Supplied
As the second oldest town in the Western Cape, dating to just after the colonial settlement of the Cape, a variety of heritage architecture is evident, including Georgian, but it is particularly renowned for the Cape Dutch style. Inge van Aarde conducts guided walking tours through the town and has a wealth of knowledge on this topic. 

Germishuys says: “Stellenbosch is essentially a farming and university town with a fabulous wine and student lifestyle and culture. Streets such as Dorp and Church are lined with cafés, boutiques, art stores and antique shops, including the famous Oom Samie se Winkel.”

Property in and around Stellenbosch is an excellent investment and values continue to grow. Prices tend to be a little on the higher side of average, he admits, but he says there is a range of property to suit every lifestyle and budget. 

Apartment prices start from around R800 000 for a small two-bedroom unit to townhouses at around R1.2 million for two bedrooms, and houses upwards of around R1.8m. 

“Luxury property tends to range from around R2.8m upward to as much as R30m, especially a luxury house in an exclusive security estate,” says Germishuys. 

“Luxury suburban homes in areas such as Mostertsdrift range from R6m, and in Brandwacht and Dalsig upwards of R4m. It depends what and where you buy.”

Secure lifestyle and golf estates like Welgevonden and Croydon Vineyard and Olive Estate enjoy fabulous views and capital growth, says Germishuys, yet still offer accessible land prices from around R1.4m to R2.2m.

Family houses tend to sell for on average around R2.7m and upwards of R3.8m.

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