Riebeek Kasteel, and its sister town, Riebeek West, are two of the oldest towns in South Africa, situated at 80 km north-east of Cape Town in The Riebeek Valley. During 1661 Commander Jan van Riebeeck initiated an inland discovery expedition under the leadership of Pieter Cruythoff. They set off in the direction of Paardeberg and on 3 February 1661 they ascended a lonely mountain and came upon the fertile vista of the Riebeek Valley.
They named it Riebeek Kasteel, in honour of the Commander. In the 19th century both Jan Smuts
and Daniel Malan
were born on the outskirts of neighbouring Riebeek West, both later becoming prime ministers of the country. (Click here for the Jan Smuts Museum.
) Subsequently farmers established themselves in the valley and during 1900 the town was laid out in and around its existing church (Click here for the Ode Kerk Museum
) and its neighbour The Royal Hotel, the oldest hotel of South Africa. The town eventually developed and today it houses more or less 2700 residentsIn 2009 Riebeek Kasteel was chosen one of the three most beautiful towns of the Western Cape by the newspaper “Rapport”. The other two finalists were Stellenbosch and Clanwilliam.
This is an unofficial history of the Riebeek Valley. We say ‘unofficial’ because while some of the information is well documented, other information is based on the memory of elderly locals and hearsay.
We have a wonderful HISTORICAL ROUTE that you can walk to see all the memorable sites of this lovely valley.