At the onset of globalisation, the Cape of Good Hope was established in 1652 as a victualling station for the Dutch East India Company to supply its fleets sailing to and from the East Indies. Fresh water and meat supplies as well as vegetables and fruit were essential to sustain the trading ventures and gardens were laid on. Soon, however, the interest in the botanical and medicinal qualities of the Cape botanical richness triggered interests in the Netherlands and plants, seeds, bulbs and cuttings were regularly supplied to the botanical and medical gardens of cities and private collectors. The earliest agricultural calendar to guide farming activities at the Cape was compiled early in the 18th century by WA van der Stel, owner of Vergelegen.
Together with three soil types – granite, shale and sandstone – the mediterranean climate of the Western Cape, influenced by maritime conditions and mountainous terroir, is viticulturally ideal for growing good grapes. The first vines at the Cape were planted in 1655 in the Company Gardens at the foot of Table Mountain to provide the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) fleets with fresh produce, water and wine for their long voyages to the East Indies and Europe. After the small land grants along the Amsel (now the Liesbeeck) River on the slopes of Table Mountain were made to the first nine Free Burghers in 1657, more vines were planted. Barely two years later, on 2 February 1659, the first wine was produced at the Cape. By 1680 governor Simon van der Stel planted more than 100,000 vines in the Constantia valley. After the French king Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, some 150 Huguenots and their families came to the Cape and from 1688 were given land grants, primarily in the Upper Berg River valley. These Protestant refugees brought with them the knowledge of viticulture, which helped to promote and advance the economic prosperity of the Cape. From 1761, Constantia regularly exported red and white wines to Europe.
Following the prosperity that the 18th century brought to the Cape, farmsteads, originally simple and basic utilitarian, acquired gables – the earliest dated from the mid-18th century. These gables, both front and back gables as well as end gables, were usually decorated with plaster elements. However, two farmsteads stood out as the idealised farmsteads, i.e. Constantia and Vergelegen. During the latter part of the 18th century, Cape Town was known as “Little Paris”.
Unesco WHS tentative list ref: 6049
From my collection
I’m not sure yet if these exact buildings would be included in the site, but they are good examples of the type of homestead described.
Cards to swap
No spare cards available from this site.