Jump to content


Coordinates: 33°56′12″S 18°51′41″E / 33.93667°S 18.86139°E / -33.93667; 18.86139
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aerial View of Stellenbosch
Dorp Street
Hofmeyr Hall
Flag of Stellenbosch
Coat of arms of Stellenbosch
Eikestad ("City of Oaks")
Stellenbosch is located in Western Cape
Stellenbosch is located in South Africa
Stellenbosch is located in Africa
Coordinates: 33°56′12″S 18°51′41″E / 33.93667°S 18.86139°E / -33.93667; 18.86139
Country South Africa
Province Western Cape
DistrictCape Winelands
Established1679; 344 years ago
 • Total10.12 km2 (3.91 sq mi)
136 m (446 ft)
 • Total77,476
 • Density7,700/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • White66.6%
 • Coloured15.8%
 • Black African15.0%
 • Indian/Asian0.9%
 • Other1.7%
First languages (2011)
 • Afrikaans70.4%
 • English20.8%
 • Xhosa1.8%
 • Other7.0%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box
Area code021

Stellenbosch (/ˈstɛlənbɒs/;[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 is a popular tourist destination due to its history as the second oldest town in South Africa (dating back to 1679),[6] its many historic buildings that are typical of Cape Dutch architecture, its location in the centre of many famous wine farms, as well as its variety of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The town is home to Stellenbosch University, one of South Africa's oldest universities, whose campus and buildings occupies large swathes of the town centre. Stellenbosch also has a modern science park, Technopark, situated on the southern side of the town,[7] which serves as a base for many large companies and startups, including Capitec Bank (South Africa's second largest retail bank).

Stellenbosch has its own municipality (incorporating the neighbouring towns of Pniel and Franschhoek), adjoining the metropolitan area of the City of Cape Town.


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.[8][9] This indicates that human habitation of the area dates as far back as 1 million years. By 10,000 to 20,000 years ago the population, assumed to have been ancestors of the San people, were established in the area.[10]

Founding and early history

The Blettermanhuis, built in 1789,[11] an historic house in the typical Cape Dutch style in Stellenbosch

The town was founded in 1679 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, who named it after himself[12] – 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.[13]

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.[14][15] Early visitors commented on the oak trees and gardens.[5][16]

During 1690 some Huguenot refugees settled in Stellenbosch,[17] grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry.[14]

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.[18] When the church was rebuilt in 1723 it was located on what was then the outskirts of the town, to prevent a similar incident from destroying it again. This church has been enlarged a number of times since 1723 and is currently known as the "Moederkerk" (Mother Church).

Since the 1800s


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.[19] 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 [1].[20] 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"[21] 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.[21]



At the time of the 2011 census, the population of the urban area of Stellenbosch was 77,476, living in 23,730 households, in an area of 20.9 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi). Roughly 70% of the residents spoke Afrikaans as their home language, 2% spoke isiXhosa, and 21% spoke English. 15% of the population identified themselves as Black African, 16% as Coloured (racially mixed), and 67% 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.[22] In 2017, the municipality estimated that the population in 2018 would increase to 176,523.[23]

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.[24]

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 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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 24.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33
Source: Stellenbosch climate


A panorama of Stellenbosch, as seen from Papegaaiberg

Other than viticulture and winemaking and the small size of the town, Stellenbosch is home to several corporate headquarters of large and small companies including major South African bank, Capitec Bank, fast-food chain, Hungry Lion, major dairy products group Lactalis South Africa (subsidiary of French dairy products company group, Lactalis), major private hospital group, Mediclinic International and investment holding company, Remgro.



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] It is also the home base of professional football club Stellenbosch FC who compete in the DStv Premiership.[25]

Viticulture and winemaking

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.[26]

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.[27]

Stellenbosch University

Theology Building of Stellenbosh University, at the top of Dorp Street
Eerste River in Stellenbosch after heavy rains
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.[28] 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.[29]

List of suburbs

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
  • 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


Primary Schools

  • A.F. Louw Primary School
  • Bruckner De Villiers Primary School
  • Cloetesville Primary School
  • Devonvallei Primary School
  • Eikestad Primary School
  • Idasvallei Primary School
  • Ikaya Primary School
  • JJ Rhode Primary School
  • Kayamandi Primary School
  • Koelenhof Primary School
  • Lynedoch Primary School
  • Rhenish Primary School
  • Stellenbosch Primary School
  • St Idas A.C. Primary School
  • Weber Gedenk Primary School

Secondary Schools





Stellenbosch lies on the Muldersvlei rail branch of the Northern Line operated by Metrorail Western Cape commuter rail system which connects Stellenbosch to Cape Town in the west via Eersterivier, Kuilsrivier and Bellville. Stellenbosch has two railway stations including its main railway station, Stellenbosch Railway Station to the east of the CBD along the R310 Adam Tas Road and Du Toit Railway Station to the north of the CBD in Plankenberg.


Bird Street, Stellenbosch Central

Stellenbosch is not directly linked to any major freeway or highway, however it is connected to the N1 (to Cape Town and Paarl) via the R44 and R304, the N2 (to Cape Town and George) via the R44 and R310 and the R300 (to Bellville and Mitchells Plain) via the M12.

The R44 roughly runs north–south from Klapmuts and Wellington towards Somerset West and runs through Stellenbosch as Adam Tas Street and Strand Road. The R304 roughly runs NW to SE from Klipheuwel and Atlantis to Stellenbosch and runs through the town as Koelenhof Road and Bird Street. The R310 roughly runs NE to SW from Franschhoek towards Muizenberg and runs through Stellenbosch as Helshoogte Road and Adam Tad Street.

Stellenbosch is also served by two metropolitan routes linking it to surrounding towns in the City of Cape Town. The M12 (Polkadraai Road) begins at the intersection with the R310 just 5 km outside Stellenbosch and runs east–west from Stellenbosch to Kuilsrivier and the Cape Town International Airport. The M23 (Bottelary Road) begins at the intersection with the R304 just 8 km outside Stellenbosch and runs east–west to Kuilsrivier and Bellville.

Bird Street is the main street through Stellenbosch Central stretching for about 2 kilometres in a north–south direction.

Houses of worship


Notable people


Coats of arms


The municipality currently uses a badge[30] 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.

  • Drostdy – The drostdy (1685–1827) was the local authority for the whole Stellenbosch district, including the city. In 1804, when the Cape Colony was ruled by the Batavian Republic, the government assigned an armorial seal to the drostdy. It depicted the shield of arms of Simon van der Stel superimposed on an anchor representing Hope, on a golden background.[31] In 1814, the British occupation authorities ordered the drostdyen to use the royal coat of arms instead.[32] Van der Stel's arms were quartered: 1 two red towers on a golden background; 2 a peacock on a red background; 3 three silver discs or balls stacked 1 over 2 on a red background; 4 a red tower on a golden background. In the centre was a smaller blue shield displaying six silver crescents (or, possibly, ribs) 2, 2, and 2.
  • Municipality (1) – The Stellenbosch municipality was formed in 1840, to administer the city, but not the rest of the district. Although it was not the legal successor to the drostdy, it adopted the old drostdy seal of arms. A few changes[33] were made to the arms over the years: quarters 2 and 3 were changed from red to blue; the peacock was turned to a profile position; the three silver discs or balls were changed to golden rings; the central shield was changed from blue to black. Whether any of these changes was intentional, or whether they were the result of artistic errors, is unclear.
  • Municipality (2) – The municipal council had a new coat of arms[34] designed by Michael Dawes in 1951. After some improvements, the College of Arms granted them on 26 June 1952. They were registered at the Bureau of Heraldry on 31 August 1979.[35] The new design was a golden shield displaying the three towers from the Van der Stel arms, and a red fess displaying the peacock between golden rings. The crest was an anchor entwined with oak leaves and acorns. The motto Fortis et superbus ("Strong and proud") was chosen.
  • Divisional council (1) – The divisional council, established in 1855, administered the rural areas outside the city. At some point, it adopted the plain Van der Stel arms, i.e. a golden shield displaying three red towers.[citation needed]
Stellenbosch Divisional Council coat of arms (1970)
  • Divisional council (2) – The divisional council had its arms re-designed by Cornelis Pama in 1970, and registered them at the Bureau of Heraldry on 30 October 1970.[35] The shield was divided down the centre into gold and red, and the three towers were counterchanged. A red tower was added as a crest.
  • Kaya Mandi – The local authority for the Black township of Kaya Mandi registered arms at the Bureau on 27 November 1987.[35]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e Combined population statistics of the Main Places Stellenbosch, La Colline, and Dalsig, which constitute the main urban area.
  2. ^ "Definition of STELLENBOSCH". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  3. ^ A Universal Pronouncing Gazetteer. Thomas Baldwin, 1852. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co.
  4. ^ A Grammar of Afrikaans. Bruce C. Donaldson. 1993. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-013426-8
  5. ^ a b The Cyclopædia; or, Univeal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature. Abraham Rees, 1819. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown
  6. ^ "A brief history of our town..." Stellenbosch Municipality. Retrieved 23 April 2024.
  7. ^ "A business park with a purpose". Technopark. Retrieved 23 April 2024.
  8. ^ Seddon, J. D. (October 1966). "The Early Stone Age at Bosman's Crossing, Stellenbosch". The South African Archaeological Bulletin. 21 (83). South African Archaeological Society: 133–137. doi:10.2307/3888433. JSTOR 3888433.
  9. ^ Deacon, H. J. (1975). "Demography, Subsistence, and Culture During the Acheulian in Southern Africa". In Butzer, Karl W.; Isaac, Glynn L. (eds.). After the Australopithecines: Stratigraphy, Ecology, and Culture Change in the Middle Pleistocene. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 543–570. ISBN 9783110878837.
  10. ^ "WHO LIVED IN THE STELLENBOSCH WINELANDS BEFORE 1652?" (PDF) – via Stellenbosch Heritage.
  11. ^ "Blettermanhuis". Stellenbosch Museum. Retrieved 17 April 2024.
  12. ^ Fairbridge, Dorothea (1922). "XII – Stellenbosch". Historic houses of South Africa. London: H. Milford, Oxford University press. p. 109. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  13. ^ "History of Stellenbosch". ShowMe™ – Stellenbosch. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  14. ^ a b Statistics of the Colonies of the British Empire in the West Indies, South America, North America, Asia, Austral-Asia, Africa and Europe: From the Official Records of the Colonial Office. Robert Montgomery Martin, 1839. London: W.H. Allen and Co. (p. 496)
  15. ^ State of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1822. William Wilberforce Bird. 1823. London: J. Murray.
  16. ^ The Life and Labours of George Washington Walker: of Hobart Town, Tasmania. James Backhouse and Charles Tylor, 1862. Tasmania: Thomas Brady (pp. 498–499)
  17. ^ Botha, Colin Graham (1921). The French refugees at the Cape. Cape Town: Cape Times Limited. p. 155. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  18. ^ Trotter, A.F. (1903). Old Cape Colony a chronicle of her men and houses from 1652–1806. Westminster: A. Constable & co., ltd. pp. 174, 179. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  19. ^ "Rhenish prepare for their 150th birthday". Eikestad News. Eikestadnuus. 17 February 2006. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2007.
  20. ^ "Huisdinge: Harmonie Dameskoshuis". Sun.ac.za. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  21. ^ a b Jones, Spencer (11 March 2024). "The British Army and the Lessons of the Boer War". War on the Rocks. Retrieved 15 March 2024.
  22. ^ Community Survey 2016: Provincial profile: Western Cape (PDF) (Report). Statistics South Africa. 2018. p. 8. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  23. ^ Stellenbosch Municipality 2017 – Western Cape Government
  24. ^ Malherbe, E.G. (1939). Official Year Book of the Union of South Africa and of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate, and Swaziland. Vol. 20. Pretoria: Union of South Africa. p. 1044.
  25. ^ "Stellenbosch Football Club About Page". Stellenbosch Football Club. Retrieved 17 June 2023.
  26. ^ "Stellenbosch American Express® Wine Routes – Our Story". Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  27. ^ The-Wine-Library Archived 23 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Short Description of wine in Stellenbosch
  28. ^ "Core statistics 2014", Stellenbosch University, 2014, [online] http://www.sun.ac.za/english/statistical-profile-2014-test, Accessed: 04/08/2015
  29. ^ http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Documents/Language/Final%20Language%20Policy%20June%202016.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  30. ^ Stellenbosch
  31. ^ Pama, C. (1965), Lions and Virgins
  32. ^ Cape Town Gazette No 418 (15 January 1814).
  33. ^ changes
  34. ^ new coat of arms
  35. ^ a b c National Archives of South Africa: Data of the Bureau of Heraldry