The large commercial centre of Paarl is situated on the banks of the Berg River This town, whose name means “Pearl” owes its name to two massive granite boulders on the mountain overlooking the town. The founder Abraham Gabemma, in 1657, saw the granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it Pearl Mountain. The town originated in 1720 when a church was built and residential stands laid out. Paarl is surrounded by fruit-orchards and vineyards and linked to neighbouring regions by spectacular mountain passes. Paarl is the birthplace of the movement to obtain recognition of Afrikaans as an official language in place of Dutch and has significant monuments to Afrikaner culture.
Adventure And Sport
Bike Point: Guided cycling trips are offered to explore Paarl and the Winelands.
Fynbos Trails: These are guided horse-rides that explore the foothills of the Hawequa Mountains.
Adventure activities at Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve: The landscape of fynbos and granite rock formations hosts opportunities for angling, hiking, climbing and mountain-biking.
Wineland Ballooning: Enjoy early morning balloon rides over the magnificent Berg River Valley.
Art And Crafts
Paarl Art Route: The route includes a variety of art and crafts establishments, such as Hout Street Gallery and the Old Mill Theatre.
Brandy Route: Paarl has two brandy producers, Paarl Rock Brandy Cellar and Backsberg. Their cellars can be visited on the Brandy Route.
KWV Brandy: KWV is probably one of Paarl’s best-known attractions. This major exporter of South African wine houses the five largest vats in the world under one roof. Tours are conducted from Monday to Saturday and include the Cathedral Cellar.
Nederburg Wine Estate: The Nederburg Wine Estate hosts tours of the facilities, which include wine-tasting and buying. The buildings of the estate are monuments to the beauty and history of a former era.
Paarl Wine Route: The Paarl Wine Route includes a whole host of estates and farms, including Backsberg, Boland, Perdeberg, Nelson’s Creek, Simonsvlei, Zanddrift and Zandwijk. The two brandy producers can also be visited.
Culture / Community Tourism
Qunu African Art, Crafts and Entertainment Centre: This Centre on Nelson’s Creek Wine Estate is a replica of the traditional Xhosa village in which Nelson Mandela grew up. It sheds light on traditional Xhosa lifestyles. The sights and entertainment include traditional crafts, dancing, singing and visits to sangomas (traditional healers).
Fauna And Flora
Attraction Route: The route visits the wide variety of animal attractions in Paarl, such as Le Bonheur Crocodile Park and Wiesenhof Wild Park.
Limietberg Nature Reserve: This reserve offers several outdoor activities amid an immaculate natural environment.
Paarl Arboretum: Established in 1957, the arboretum includes 32 ha of land situated along the Berg River. Some 750 species of trees grow here.
Paarl Bird Sanctuary: The 45-ha sanctuary is home to some 140 different species of birds.
Paarl Mountain Reserve: The massive 500 million-year-old granite domes in the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Paarl are the second largest in the world. The reserve is also criss-crossed by hiking trails and mountain-biking trails.
History And Architecture
Afrikaans Language Monument: The Afrikaans Language Monument was built to honour the development of this Dutch-based language and stands on the slopes of Paarl Mountain.
Afrikaans Language Museum: The Afrikaans Language Museum lies in the centre of town and explains how the language developed.
Paarl Museum: The museum features the cultural diversity and development of the town and has collections of Cape Antiques, artefacts and documents.
Walking Mile: The walk starts at the Thatched Roof Church, the oldest Dutch Reformed Church in the country and ends at two museums, the Paarl and Afrikaans Language Museums.
Zeederburg Square: Giant oak trees and elegant Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian buildings line Main Street.