Time travel with the oldest places in South Africa

2020-02-20 16:45 - Gabi Zietsman
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While we might not have the preserved history of places like Europe and the Middle East, South Africa has a few sites that can stake a claim in the history books.

These act as a link to our past - walking in the footsteps of our ancestors along ancient paths, past weathered walls and natural landmarks as old as time itself. 

With a visit to these iconic sites, you don't have to build a time machine to look into our history.

READ: Man who gave up First Class seat to 88-year-old woman inspires airline to do the same for oldest person on each flight 

Oldest Mountain

Makhonjwa Barberton Mountains

Place: Barberton, Mpumalanga

Age: More than 3.6 billion years old

The area was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2018 - a geological marvel that's one of the oldest natural structures in the world and the remnants of a massive meteor impact. 

READ MORE: #SAHeritage: Makhonjwa Barberton Mountains confirmed as SA's newest World Heritage Site 

Oldest Ruins

Adam's Calendar

Place: Kaapsche Hoop, Mpumalanga

Age: Estimated 75 000 years old

Sometimes dubbed as the 'African Stonehenge', this monolithic structure aligns with astronomical alignments and might be one of the oldest man-made structures in the world.

Oldest Rock Painting

Blombos Cave

Place: Blomboschfontein Nature Reserve, Western Cape

Age: More than 73 000 years old

This cave has produced many invaluable artefacts from the Stone Age, including a cross-hatched pattern drawn with an ochre crayon.

READ: Explore the Artist's Journey route at the Cradle of Human Culture 

Oldest Tree

Sagole Baobab

Place: Tshipise, Limpopo

Age: About 1 200 years old

The record was once held by the Sunland Baobab before it toppled and is also one of the biggest trees in South Africa. 

Oldest City

Cape Town

Place: Western Cape:

Age: 368 years old

The Mother City was established when Jan van Riebeek first landed on our shores, becoming South Africa's first city.

READ: Cape Town vs Joburg: Which is Africa's art capital? 

Oldest Surviving Structure

The Castle of Good Hope

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 341 years old

Built by Dutch settlers at the start of the city's history, the fort has gone through many transformations to make the history it tells more inclusive.

Oldest Wine Farm

Groot Constantia

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 335 years old

The first wine farm to be established in South Africa, its wine was beloved by royalty like Frederick the Great and King Louis Phillipe.

LISTEN: The Check-In: Two of the coolest winemakers at the top of the Constantia wine valley share their secrets 

Oldest Hotel

Houw Hoek Hotel

Place: Grabouw, Western Cape

Age: 241 years old

The historic hotel has been welcoming visitors since 1779 and is today nestled in the heart of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

Oldest Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 228 years old

It took the Lutherans of Cape Town decades to finally establish a congregation for themselves with permission from the local government. 

WATCH: Holy places of SA 

Oldest Mosque

Auwal Mosque

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 226 years old

This first mosque in South Africa, today it's an important hub for religious prayer in the city's Bo-Kaap neighbourhood.

Oldest Pub

Perseverance Tavern

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 212 years old

Persies has claimed the title of the oldest pub in South Africa, although Bathurst's Pig and Whistle in the Eastern Cape has something else to say about it. 

Oldest Museum

The South African Museum

Place: Cape Town, Western Cape

Age: 195 years old

Part of Iziko Museums, it was founded in 1825 within the Company's Gardens and has a vast scientific and cultural collection that tells the history of South Africa.

ALSO WATCH: The 5 best places to uncover Africa's arts and culture on the continent itself 


Oldest Stone Bridge

Jan Joubert's Gat

Place: Franschhoek Pass, Western Cape

Age: 195 years old

The 1825-bridge is still in use today and something to tick off your road trip bucket lists. 

Oldest Theatre

Port Elizabeth Opera House

Place: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Age: 128 years old

This establishment is the longest-running theatre in Africa and when it was first opened candles were used to light the stage.

Oldest Hiking Trail

Otter Trail

Place: Garden Route, Western Cape

Age: 52 years

A big bucket list item for many avid hikers, the Otter Trail spans from Tsitsikamma's Storms River mouth into Nature's Valley.

SEE MORE: A last-minute hiker's guide to the Otter Trail, SA's iconic hike that will have you pinching yourself! 

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