Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Architectural Gems

This is a typical example of "Cape-Dutch" architecture. The house was built in 1815 and served as parish. When visiting Stellenbosch (along the "Cape Wine Route", Western Cape) this building can be found just behind the Tourism Bureau in Mark Street.

During the boom years of the trade in ostrich feathers (late 1880's until World War I) many "feather-barons" built magnificent "feather-palaces". One such "palace" is Welgeluk (a National Monument) on the Safari Ostrich Farm just outside the "ostrich capital", Oudtshoorn.

Two other stone mansions (below) dating from this era are private homes today and are situated in Oudtshoorn along the main road leading out of town towards the world-famous Cango Caves.

Probably the most magnificent looking church in our country is the NG (Nederduits Gereformeerde) church in Graaf-Reinet. An example of the Gothic revival style, it's also said to resemble the Salisbury Cathedral (in the UK). Whenever one approaches most smaller towns in South Africa, the church steeples (usually from the NG denomination) are visible from afar, reaching up high towards the sky.

The Lutheran Church in Cape Town (Strand Street) was built in the place of a shed belonging to a rich German trader, Martin Melck. The Dutch settlers at the Cape and the government of the time were staunch Calvinists, prohibiting the service of other other religions. So the (German) Lutherans secretively met in Melck's shed until they were allowed to built their own church, in which the first official service took place in 1780. The clock tower was added in 1820, designed by Anton Anreith. To this day, the German-speaking community still fondly call it the "Schuppen" church ("Schuppen" = shed).

Next door to the church is the Martin Melck House, only named so after the death in honour of the church's benefactor. These days, it houses the Gold Museum, where visitors are treated to a magnificent display of gold creations from the entire African continent.

The last 2 photos today are of what can be expected during a visit to the Gold Museum, in which the history and the trade routes of this precious metal in Africa are "revealed".

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