Grahamstown Holidays - Eastern Cape Tourism
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Known as the 'City of Saints', Grahamstown is home to at least 40 religious buildings, which sprung from the evangelical fervour during Grahamstown's heyday. Another story why Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape is called the 'City of Saints', is because in 1846 Royal Engineers in need of building tools sent word to Cape Town requesting a 'vice' be sent to Grahamstown. The message sent back read, "buy vice locally", the reply to which was, "no vice in Grahamstown" - hence the nickname 'City of Saints'.
Grahamstown is also known as the Eastern Cape's 'Settler City', due to the skilled British settlers who were instrumental in crafting Grahamstown into the magnificent city it is today. Reminiscent of Victorian style London, the exquisite examples of Victorian and early Edwardian architecture of churches, schools and homes throws one back to the mid 1800s.
'Student City' is another name for Grahamstown, as thousands of eager minds flock to the Eastern Cape, Rhodes University, renowned for it's generations of academics. Rich in education, arts and culture, Rhodes University's six faculties including Humanities, Commerce, Law, Science, Education and Pharmacy lay the foundations for our future leaders. The students bring Grahamstown to life with their eager enthusiasm, then during the July winter holiday most head for home outside Grahamstown, and the young, lively vibe is replaced with yet another influx, this time artists and performers and visitors who gather for the annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival, a 10 days celebration of dance, theatre, comedy, music, art exhibitions, workshops and tours. Accommodation in Grahamstown should be considered way in advance if you wish to attend the Grahamstown Arts Festival.
Another popular annual event is the Grahamstown SciFest Africa, which takes place during the first term of the year, attracting thousands of tourists to Grahamstown. This popular Eastern Cape science festival comprises 600 events such as lectures, workshops, interactive exhibitions, theatre, field trips, laser shows, quizzes, a film fest, tours and Science Olympics. Scientists are invited from all over the world to share their work and inspire the youth to create a new mindset about science, by demonstrating that science is very much a part of our everyday lives.
What to do and see in Grahamstown:
Grahamstown is a vibrant mix of all the best of the Eastern Cape, offering nearby Private Game Reserves for that 'safari' experience, fishing within a 20km radius of Grahamstown, birdwatching, golf, hiking, rock climbing and skydiving. For a glimpse of Eastern Cape history, visit the Observatory Museum, International Library of African Music, National English Literary Museum, and the Provost Prison on the grounds of Rhodes University to name just a few.
Directions to Grahamstown:
Being at the core of the Eastern Cape's 'Frontier Country' tourism, Grahamstown lies just off the N2 about 129km (1hr 26 min) from Port Elizabeth to the West, and 173km (1hr 59 min) to the east of East London.
If driving from bigger cities, the road conditions are fairly good when coming from Durban (671km) and further afield from Gauteng (950km).
If you're flying in, the nearest airports are in Port Elizabeth and East London, with regular flights from all major South African cities.
By bus, several companies travel between the major cities, some with a stop-off in Grahamstown along the way.
When in Grahamstown, most attractions are within east walking distance from the city centre.
Lying right in the middle of 4 different climatic zones, the weather in Grahamstown can be very unpredictable, with the rainy July winters being a chilly 18°C, definitely requiring a coat, gloves and scarf. The delightful Mediterranean summers hover around 27°C in February.
Grahamstown contact details:
For contact details for provisions, amenities and emergency services, call the local directory on 1023, or international telephone directory on 10903.
Other important Grahamstown numbers :
Grahamstown Ambulance: +27 (0)46 622-5664 (10177)
Grahamstown Police: +27 (0)46 603-9111 (10111)
Grahamstown Hospital: +27 (0)46 622-2215 (10177)