Paarl Tourist Attractions
Paarl lies on the banks of the Berg River in a broad fertile valley under the Paarl Mountain (729m/2,392ft). The name Paarl (''Pearl'') comes from a large granite crag which gleams like a pearl when it is caught by the sun after a fall of rain. The fruit and vegetables grown in the surrounding area are processed in canning factories in the town.The first Europeans settled in this area in 1687, soon to be followed by Huguenot refugees from France. The town was officially founded in 1717, making it one of the oldest European settlements in the hinterland of Cape Town.The town played an important part in the development of Afrikaans as the official language of South Africa. A society was formed in the town in 1875 to regularize the grammar and vocabulary of the language, and the first Afrikaans newspaper, ''Die Afrikaanse Patriot'', began to appear in Paarl on January 15th 1876.Paarl is a quiet and attractive town. Its oldest street (Main Street), 11km/7mi long and lined by oak-trees, was laid out in 1720; it has preserved a number of historic old buildings.
The Strooidakkerk (''straw-roofed church'') in Main Street, built in 1805, is one of the oldest churches in South Africa still in use.
The Oude Pastorie (Old Parsonage) built in 1787 and renovated in 1939, is now a museum with a fine collection of Cape Dutch antiques, silver, copperware, brass, porcelain and glass, textiles of Huguenot origin and Afrikaner culture.
Afrikaans Language Museum
In Gideon Malherbe House, is the Afrikaans Language Museum. Here in 1875 was founded the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (Association of True Afrikaners), a society for the promotion of Afrikaans, and here too, in the following year, the first Afrikaans newspaper, ''Die Afrikaanse Patriot'', was published. The Museum illustrates the development of the language.
Groot Drakenstein Prison
Groot Drakenstein Prison is a minimum security prison that was "home" for Nelson Mandela until 2000. A statue was commissioned in his likeness and placed on the spot where Mandela supposedly took his first steps to freedom after being incarcerated for 14 months.