To walk the streets of Franschhoek is to step into another world, one steeped in 329 years of rich Huguenot history. Between the quaint streets and ornate Cape Dutch architecture, it’s quite easy to feel as though you’ve taken a step back in time, to an age where life was peaceful, and the ultimate joys were derived from sipping the perfect wine or spending quality time with loved ones.
While many centuries have passed since the first Huguenots settled Franschhoek, the town’s old world charm and rich heritage remain very much intact, and there are plenty of intriguing artifacts dotted around the valley that beg to be explored.
For history buffs and those looking to delve a little deeper into what makes Franschhoek so special, here are a few spots you shouldn’t miss during your visit:
Near impossible to miss, the Huguenot Monument stands proudly at the end of the town’s Main Road. The imposing statue, situated amongst breathtaking gardens, serves as a lasting reminder of the town’s French Huguenot influence, representing their beliefs, values and hope for the future.
If you’re looking for a little more insight to the history of Franschhoek, be sure to stop by the Huguenot Memorial Museum, situated alongside the Monument. Filled with stories of the Huguenot’s pioneering lives and times in the Franschhoek valley, this must-see museum is an intriguing snapshot of Franschhoek’s early days.
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For a slightly more sombre step back in time, take a walk around the Churchyard, Franschhoek’s original cemetery and the final resting place of the original Huguenot settlers. A walk through the ornate gravestones is a strangely peaceful exercise, and offers up some insight into the lives of those who first called Franschhoek home.
Franschhoek’s original station is a well maintained testament to the work of acclaimed British architect, Sir Herbert Baker. The old building shadows Cape Dutch revival lines with its distinctive gable and design, and is now home to a pub and craft bar, meaning you can soak up the town’s history whilst sampling a local brew or two.
In 1935, the Franschhoek’s Town Hall was built in the traditional Cape Dutch revival style. Its seamless lines and gentle curves echo the rich heritage and architectural style of the town, with the gable imprinted with Franschhoek’s famous heraldic crest. Make sure to stop in on your next wander down Main Street.