The VOC, or Dutch East India Company, established Graaff-Reinet in 1786. The town’s name is named after the then-governor of the Cape, Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff, and his wife, Reinet. The VOC established the town to encourage trade between the Cape and the rural areas.
Graaff-Reinet is South Africa’s 6th oldest town and the oldest town in the Eastern Cape Province – read more about South Africa’s 15 oldest towns here.
Graaff-Reinet is known as the “Gem of the Karoo.” It is the town with the most national monuments in South Africa. It features over 200 historic buildings and pre-Victorian homes. Furthermore, it is an agricultural town with mohair, sheep and ostrich farms.
Where is Graaff-Reinet?
Getting to Graaff-Reinet takes a long time but is worth doing as part of a road trip through South Africa. The town is almost 3 hours by car from Port Elizabeth or Gqeberha (262 km).
Things to do in Graaff-Reinet
Because of its age, Graaff-Reinet has a lot to offer to visitors. Some of the best sights include:
- The Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park
- Dutch Reformed Church, Groot Kerk
- The Reinet House, also known as the Graaff-Reinet Museum
- GRT Brewery
- Hester Rupert Art Museum Graaff-Reinet
- The War Memorial
- Old Residency
- St James the Great Anglican Church
- Urquhart House Museum
- The Recollection Village and Museum
- Anglo-Boer War Memorial
- Gideon Scheepers Memorial
- Old Library Museum
- Andries Pretorius Monument
- Monument to the Independent Colony of Graaff-Reinet
- The Monument to Jewish Pedlars
- Krugersdorp Monument
- The Union Monument
- John Rupert Theatre
- The Huguenot Monument
- Karoo Ballooning