Aside from the Constantia wine route in South Africa, this area has a lot more to offer for anyone interested in an extended stay – so get away from the stress of having to search for houses for sale, work deadlines and insurmountable traffic.
The Groot Constantia Homestead
With a history that spans over 300 years, it’s impossible not to have relics and points of interest in Groot Constantia. The Manor House in the farm has a display of old furniture, ceramics, paintings, copper and brassware that will give you a glimpse of how life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There is also a Coach House with a carriage collection, the old wine cellar, and a Wine Museum that showcases different kinds of wine glasses and vessels used for tasting the wine and storing them. The farm itself was home to many slaves and their presence through the displays is very evident throughout the farm.
The Cape Winelands
Constantia Valley is located in the Cape Winelands which is being considered as a new World Heritage Site. The valley is rich with 5 different cultural influences from the Muslims, Dutch, Indians, other African countries, and America.
Currently, there are several Provincial Heritage Sites which the residents would like to see upgraded to national status. Some of these sites are Tokai Arboretum and Tokai Manor House which are historical landmarks, the Malay cemetery, Islam Hill, Porter Church, Parish Road Cemetery, and Witteboomen Homestead, among others.
There are other places like parks and architectural buildings that are worth saving and preserving for tourism and historical significance. It’s interesting about the architecture in Constantia that many of the materials used for building had to be brought in from elsewhere. There was even a time when bamboo was being used instead of timber because of the limited resources. In 1685, there was even a mandate from the High Commissioner that everyone follow a strict building code. For instance, sun-dried bricks were used along with shells from the beaches. There was a distinct design using local stone and low walls so that it replicated the Dutch “hofstede” or homestead.
Unfortunately, majority of these buildings no longer exist and the only ones that remain are found in the wine farms having been renovated and repaired periodically.
If you can find time to visit Rust en Vrede or Sillery, you will be able to see another style in homes – the thatch roofed homes. These are 19th century houses, elongated with dormer windows and hipped side.
Mount Prospect is close to Groot Constantia and is a typical 19th century Victorian home with outbuildings that were used as barns. Mount Prospect is also the side of Constantia Valley where you can find upper scale apartments and homes.
One of the reasons you may see hikers around Constantia is because of those who are looking for the rare “chicken of the woods” mushroom which has been spotted in this area. These mushrooms grow on oaks and can be cooked to serve as the main course. It is dense and thick so it will have to be cooked for long periods of time to get the softness usually associated with mushrooms. It has been compared to chicken breast in texture but tastes nothing like chicken.
Other Places of Interest
You may also want to include a visit to the Kramat at Islam Hill which is the Muslim cemetery or burial grounds or the Constantia Boys Reformatory or the Girls Reformatory.