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Overberg Swellendam
 
 
             Welcome to Swellendam

Swellendam is the third oldest magisterial district in South Africa after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Nestling in a valley beneath the spectacular peaks of the Langeberg Mountain, is a charming town with a fascinating history.

The area of Swellendam was once famous for its game animals. Lion, rhino, hippo, elephant and ostrich abounded, as well as antelope in great numbers, including eland, zebra, hartebeest, the bontebok and the now-extinct quagga and bluebuck. With the arrival of the Europeans, many fine farms were established along the slopes of the mountains were perennial streams provided ample water. Many farms still have their original homesteads which are characterized by interesting architectural features.

In 1743, the Dutch East India Company authorities decided to establish civil authority over this remote frontier portion, in order to exercise control over independent frontiersmen who migrated over the Hottentots Holland Mountains at the beginning of the 18th century. A landdrost was appointed and a Drostdy and other buildings were erected. In 1747 it was completed and the new district was called Swellendam, in honour of Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena ten Damme.

In time a village was established opposite the Drostdy, across the Koornlands River, where artisans, including numerous wainwrights and traders settled. To travelers and explorers, the services of these village folk were indispensable, as Swellendam was the last outpost of civilization on the eastern frontier.

The original Drostdy was substantially renovated in later years. Beautifully preserved as a national monument, it is today one of the architectural gems of Southern Africa. Swellendam's houses a museum containing an interesting collection of period furniture and household bric-a-brac dating back over the years since it was built.

As the years of the first half of the 19th century passed, Swellendam steadily developed into the prosperous administrative and commercial capital of the Overberg. The wool industry of Southern Africa was established commercially in the Overberg, with Swellendam as the centre. The long main street became lined with a varied collection of buildings. Old gables, gateways, relics and fragments of many interesting old buildings survive as well as several lovely old thatched homes.

Strategically situated on the N2, approximately 240km from both Cape Town and George Swellendam offers attractions rich in heritage and culture, architecture, wildlife and outdoor adventure. It is also an ideal base from which to explore the neighbouring Southern Cape, Breede River Valley and the Klein Karoo.

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