Genadendal lies at the foot of the Riviersonderend Mountains near the popular Overberg town of Greyton. Established in 1738, it is said to be the oldest mission on the continent. For anyone interested in history, a stop here is very worthwhile.
At the heart of this small town, beautiful old buildings surround the well-preserved Genadendal Moravian Church Square, which oozes an atmosphere of a time long past. There are 20-odd historic buildings dating to the early 1800s. It is regarded as the most authentic Church Square in the country.
The peaceful atmosphere lends itself to quiet contemplation while strolling around the buildings enjoying the history preserved here. For browsers, there is a shop that sells crafts made by the local community.
The German missionary who founded the town, Georg Schmidt, was eventually chased out of the country when the Cape Dutch Reformed clergy took exception to his baptising of the community that he was preaching to. Fortunately, the town survived.
A century later, the Moravian church offered refuge to freed slaves after their emancipation in 1834, as most of these slaves were completely destitute, and this gave a healthy boost to the town's population over a short period.
Look out for
Mission museum - the collection here is housed in 15 exhibition rooms and ranges from household goods to musical instruments and medical equipment, and includes the oldest fire engine and the oldest pipe-organ in the country. The contents were declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1991, and most of the display has been produced and used at this mission station. This was one of the more progressive communities in its time, with members carrying out pioneering work in education, music, printing, vernacular architecture, and furniture making. Visiting hours are Mon-Thurs 09h00-13h00 and 14h00-17h00, Friday 09h00-15h30, and Saturday mornings.
Genadendal Hiking Trail - this 25km hiking trail is done over two days, starting and finishing in Genadendal. The trail takes in forested gorges, fynbos, and mountain pools, and leads to some fantastic views. There is overnight accommodation with braai facilities at the farm De Hoek.