Paarl Afrikaans: derived from Parel, meaning "pearl" in Dutch is a town with 112,045 inhabitants in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is the third-oldest city and European settlement in the Republic of South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch) and the largest town in the Cape Winelands. Due to the growth of the Mbekweni township, it is now a de facto urban unit with Wellington.
It is situated about 60 kilometres northeast of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province and is known for its scenic environment and viticulture and fruit-growing heritage. Paarl is the seat of the Drakenstein Local Municipality; although not part of the Cape Town metropolitan area, it falls within its economic catchment. Paarl is unusual among South African place-names, in being pronounced differently in English than in Afrikaans; likewise unusual about the town's name is Afrikaners customary attachment to it, saying not in Paarl, but rather in die Paarl, or in die Perel (literally, "in the Paarl"). Paarl gained additional international attention when, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked, with live international television coverage, out of Victor Verster Correctional Centre (now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre) in Paarl ending his 27 years of imprisonment, and beginning a course to South Africa's post-apartheid era and, notably, to multi-racial elections. Mandela spent three years in prison here living in a private house within the walls. Today, a bronze statue of Mandela stands outside the prison.
Paarl hosted a match from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. The headquarters of Ceres Fruit Juices is located in the city, although its namesake and source of much of the fruit, Ceres Valley, lies around one hour's drive to the northeast. The district is particularly well known for its Pearl Mountain or "Paarl Rock". This huge granite rock consists of three rounded outcrops and has been compared in majesty to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia. (However, they are not geologically similar. Paarl Rock consists of intrusive igneous rock, while Uluru is composed of arkose and is a sedimentary remnant.)
The area that is now known as Paarl was first and is still inhabited by the Khoekhoe. The Peninsular Khoikhoi people and the Cochoqua people live in this area divided by the Berg River Valley. The Cochaqua were cattle-herding people and among the richest of the Khoi tribes. They had between 16,000 and 18,000 members and originally called Paarl Mountain, which means Tortoise Mountain . The Dutch East India Company, under the leadership of Jan van Riebeeck, established meat-trading relationships with the Khoikhoi people on the Table Bay coastline. In 1657, in search of new trading relationships inland, Abraham Gabemma saw a giant granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it "de Diamondt en de Peerlberg" (Diamond and Pearl Mountain), from which Paarl is derived. Gabemma (often also spelt Gabbema) was the Fiscal (public treasurer) for the settlement on the shores of Table Bay. The "diamonds" disappeared from the name, and it became known simply as Pearl Rock or Pearl Mountain. In 1687, Governor Simon van der Stel gave the title to the first colonial farms in the area to "free burghers". The following year, the French Huguenots arrived in the Western Cape and began to settle on farms in the area.
The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and, above all, vineyards. Thus began Paarl's long and continuing history as a major wine- and fruit-producing area of South Africa. In 1875 a congregation was formed out of a desire to be educated in their mother tongue. This was the result of a Reverend GWA van der Lingen idea who tried to motivate and convince people of his principles. The congregation would raise funds and begin construction of a church that would later be known as the "Toring Kerk" (Tower Church). Construction finished in 1905. The church contains materials imported from London and Egypt. The arrival of the European settlers brought on a conflict with the Khoikhoi people, as land and water resources began to be contested and the Khoi traditions of communal land use came in conflict with the settler's concept of private property. The Khoi peoples were defeated in local war and were further decimated by European diseases. The population scattered inland toward the Orange River or became labourers on settler farms.
Like many towns in the Cape Winelands, Paarl is home to a prosperous community, with many well maintained Cape Dutch houses, gardens and streets lined with old oak trees. Paarl boasts a unique cultural attraction: it was here that the foundations of the Afrikaans language were laid by the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners. The "Afrikaanse Taalmonument" (monument to the Afrikaans language) on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum (Taalmuseum) and the Afrikaans Language Route through Dal Josaphat are memorials to this achievement. The former headquarters of the wine industry in South Africa is also situated here. This was the "Co-operative Wine Growers' Association" (better known by its Afrikaans initials KWV). KWV became a South African institution that has acquired an international reputation based on its unique achievements and its imprint of quality on the local wine industry. Over the past decade, however, KWV has been privatized and no longer has an administrative role in the South African wine industry. (KWV's main wine production and maturation facilities are on its Paarl premises, while its brandy production takes place in Worcester and grape juice concentrate production in Upington in the Northern Cape.)
The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings (17-19th Century), scenic drives, hiking trails, excellent restaurants and the Paarl wine route, with its many wine tasting opportunities. The old Spice Route Paarl, which was initiated in 1997 by Charles Back, the owner of this estate as well as of Fairview, provides an opportunity for visitors to appreciate and taste local delicacies from the Western Cape, like biltong, draft beer or red and white wines from the surrounding wine yards in Malmesbury and Darling. Back's vision was "to offer local and international tourists a selection of hand-picked artisanal producers who put as much thought, skill and passion into their products as Spice Route winemaker, Charl du Plessis, puts into his wines". In addition to that, a range of art galleries and the traditional way of organic dark chocolate production can be explored. The heritage of the Spice Route farm goes back to the historical mariners who used to trade Eastern spices to Europe along the "Spice Route" for spice trade in the 15th century.
The Paarl Rock itself is these days a common destination for rock climbers. However, in the pioneering period of rock climbing in South Africa, the mountain was ignored or shunned because its steep faces were so smooth and unfissured that climbers could find no place to attach "runners" or anchor points for belays. The first climbing routes up the rock were pioneered in 1969 by J. W. Marchant and G. Athiros, the former from the University of Cape Town Mountain and Ski Club. Soon afterwards Marchant and John Knight established a few routes on which the rope was run out for 100 m or more with no protection whatsoever. This was in the days before bolting was possible, and these achievements are still held in high regard today. Nowadays protection is afforded by bolts in the granite, and there are on Paarl Rock a few dozen routes that attract the best climbers of the current generation. (All of these climbs remain dangerous for the inexperienced.) A guidebook for these routes was written in 2006 by Stewart & Scott Noy, who lived at the foot of the mountain and were developing many of the new routes at the time. Amongst the neighbourhoods are De Zoete Inval (a middle-class suburb in the south); Courtrai (a wealthy suburb in the southern part of town); Central Paarl (generally known as Upper-Paarl and also containing a lot of wealthy suburbs, popular area for local Jewish people ); Lemoenkloof (a wealthy suburb between the central and northern parts of town); Northern Paarl (middle-class suburb, including the area of Groenvlei); Denneburg (a middle class suburb) as well as Klein Parys (both in the south-east of the town); Vrykyk (in the south) and areas in the eastern part of the town such as New Orleans, New York, Amstelhof, Lantana and Klein Nederburg. There are also large gated communities developed towards the South of the town on the way to Franschhoek, such as Boschenmeer (golf estate), Val de Vie Estate (polo estate) and Pearl Valley (golf estate).
Three day Weather Forecast for Paarl
Tuesday, 05 July 2022
Temp: 5.6°C - 16°C
Wednesday, 06 July 2022
Temp: 7.1°C - 18.7°C
Thursday, 07 July 2022
Temp: 7.2°C - 17.6°C
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