The Boland Earthquake of 1969 wreaked massive damage across the historic town of Tulbagh, but it was also thanks to this very disaster that the restoration and preservation of the town’s history became a reality.
The discovery of a photo taken in the 1860s allowed for the town to get together and restore every historic structure on Church Street to its original state, leading to 32 provincial heritage sites standing in one street alone, the largest concentration of National Monuments in South Africa!
I jumped at the opportunity to amble down Church street over the course of our weekend away at the African Tulip Guest House last December, taking my time to admire all these fantastic, well kept examples of Cape Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian architecture.
Other than those acting as museums, most of these historic houses are privately owned, with many operating as businesses, including the likes of restaurants, guest houses, art galleries, or quaint little shops.
Church street is also home to two churches (on either end of the street), a rugby field, a communal green space, and a organic community vegetable garden.
Outside of each house there stands an official, nifty little signboard, detailing the structure’s history and design style, not to mention the dispensing of some fascinating tidbits of local lore.
Naturally, plenty of photos were taken during the course of my stroll – I mean, who doesn’t love taking photos of classic whitewash and gables!
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Well, well worth taking the time to amble down Church Street, and even better if you can organise to join one of the historic walking tours!