Paarl's history has been woven by an intricate set of circumstances and started with the nomadic tribes that used to frequently visit the valley, searching for grazing land for their cattle and sheep. These nomads already saw the unique rock formation, which served as landmarks to them.
At that stage it was known as Skilpad Mountain (Tortoise Mountain). Only after the arrival of Bailiff Abraham Gabbema in the Berg River Valley in 1657 it was noted that the huge granite rocks (3rd largest outcrop in the world) glisten in the sunlight after a shower and the area was called "Peerlbergh" of Paarl Mountain.
In 1688 Governor van der Stel granted five farms to Huguenot families. These families introduced the art of winemaking into the valley.
(Make sure to indulge in Paarl's fine wines and cuisine!)
Paarl's eleven-kilometer long Main Street was the old wagon route to the north. Paarl was once the hub of the wagon-making industry.
Paarl's contribution to Afrikaans - the world’s youngest language - is portrayed by the Afrikaanse Taalmonument (Monument for the Afrikaans language) on the slopes of Paarl Mountain. Afrikaans originated from Dutch spoken among frontier people and slaves of mixed indigenous and Malay descent.
Paarl made headlines when President Mandela was released from the Victor Verster Prison (today Drakenstein Prison) to freedom and the start of the new South Africa.