History and culture

Swellendam is one of the oldest trading posts in the country, originally founded by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the fourth oldest in South Africa. The settlement soon became a gateway to the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers.

At that time Swellendam was the last outpost of civilisation so the services of the village folk were indispensable. In the early 19th century the Overberg boomed, and  Swellendam, developed into a useful refreshment station on the long, slow journey up the coast.

Today, there is still a lot of history around. Many buildings have been preserved and you can easily imagine yourself to be in the shoes of the 18th century traveller. More history is close to Swellendam such as the traditional village of Suurbraak or the oldest working pont in Malagas. The Swellendam of today has much to offer as well. You can visit the local township in Railton, Sulinas Faerie Sanctuary or enjoy modern culture in one of the galleries in town.

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