The entire village of Pilgrim’s Rest is a National Monument – and takes you back to the heady gold rush days. Pilgrim’s Rest dates back to 1873 when a miner named Alex Wheelbarrow Patterson discovered gold on a farm here, starting a gold rush.
From tents and shacks it grew into a flourishing village with brick houses, a church, various shops, canteens, a newspaper and the legendary Royal Hotel.
Over time the gold dwindled – although there is still limited mining in the area – and the town turned to forestry. The town was declared a National Monument in 1986 and many historic buildings were lovingly restored. Pilgrim’s Rest is a good stopover along the Panorama Route, with its fascinating history, quaint little shops and picturesque mountain scenery.
Look out for
Gold rush history & heritage - Take a guided walking tour of the old town that includes spots of historic interest. There’s the Dresden Shop Museum that depicts a typical general store from the period. Or the Digging Museum that showcases the lifestyle of the original pioneers. Then there are the Royal Hotel, the Sacred Heart Church, St Mary's Church, the Methodist Church, the Dutch Reformed Church and the cemetery. The tombstones date back to the years of the original gold rush, and were all laid facing in the same direction.
Gold panning - The annual gold panning championships are held in Pilgrim’s Rest in spring, attracting many modern gold diggers.
Arts & crafts - There are plenty of treasure chests in Pilgrim’s Rest and you can buy everything from ceramics and glassware to antiques, collectibles and Africana.
Alanglade House Museum - Alanglade House once served as the residence of the director of the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate Ltd. The house is furnished with many examples of period furniture of the 1920s, as well as paintings and glassware.
Outdoors - There are many hiking and mountain biking trails in the area, as well as good trout fishing. The nearby Mount Sheba Reserve is excellent.
Golf - The village’s nine-hole golf course has shaded greens with scenic mountain views. The course’s beautiful sandstone clubhouse was once a school in Rustenburg almost 500km away in the North West province. The structure was dismantled and each stone was carefully numbered and transported to Pilgrim's Rest, where it was rebuilt in 1985.