The Western Cape: Places to Explore

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Stellenbosch

You could easily while away a week in this small, sophisticated, beautiful, and absolutely delightful town. South Africa's second-oldest municipality, after Cape Town, Stellenbosch actually feels old, unlike so many other historic towns. Wandering the oak-shaded streets, which still have open irrigation furrows (known as the lei water, pronounced lay vaa-ter), you'll see some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian, Victorian, and Regency architecture in the country. The town was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, first governor of the Cape, who recognized the agricultural potential of this fertile valley. Wheat was the major crop grown by the early settlers, but vineyards now blanket the surrounding hills. Stellenbosch is considered the center of the Winelands, and many of the older and more established wineries are situated nearby. Wine routes fan out like spokes of a wheel, making excellent day trips if you're staying in town. The town is also home to the University of Stellenbosch, the country's first and most prestigious Afrikaner university.

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