Online Encyclopedia

PAARL

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 431 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PAARL, a town of the Cape Province, South Africa, 36 m. by rail E.N.E. of Cape Town. Pop. (1904), 11,293. The town is situated on the west bank of the Berg river, some 400 ft. above the sea. It stands on the coast plain near the foot of the Drakenstein mountains. West of the town the Paarl Berg rises from the plain. The berg is crowned by three great granite boulders, known as the Paarl, Britannia and Gordon Rock. The town is beautifully situated amid gardens, orange groves and vineyards. The chief public buildings are the two Dutch Reformed churches, the old church being a good specimen of colonial Dutch architecture, with gables, curves and thatched roof. Paarl is a thriving agricultural and viticultural centre, among its industries being the manufacture of wine and brandy, wagon and carriage building and harness making. South-east of the town are granite quarries. The wines produced in the district are among the best in South Africa, ranking second only to those of Constantia. The Paarl is one of the oldest European towns in South Africa. It dates from 1687, the site for the new settlement being chosen by the governor, Simon van der Stell. It was named Paarl by the first settlers from the fancied resemblance of one of the boulders on the top of the hill, when glistening in the sun, to a gigantic pearl. Shortly afterwards several of the Huguenots who had sought refuge at the Cape after the revocation of the edict of Nantes were placed in the new settlement. The present inhabitants are largely descended from these Huguenots.
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