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Country  South Africa
Language spoken  Afrikaans
Area  154.47 km2
District  Namakwa
Founded  1851

Calvinia is a regional town in the Northern Cape province of South Africa named after the French religious reformer Jean Calvin. The town belongs to the Hantam Local Municipality which forms part of the Namakwa District Municipality. The Calvinia district is part of the Great Karoo region of South Africa. The town is just south of the Hantam mountains on the banks of the Oorlogskloof (meaning "War Ravine") River.


Map of Calvinia

Calvinia enjoys 80% starlight and is renowned for its kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers coinciding with the Namaqualand wildflower spectacle.

An asteroid (1245 Calvinia) is named after the town.


Calvinia in the past, History of Calvinia

The earliest known people living in the area were Khoisan people. The first Europeans in the area were farmers who took their livestock to the area in the 1750s. Farmers received tracts of land in 1813.

On 19 January 1847, at a meeting on the farm Tygerhoek, a new Dutch Reformed Church congregation was founded for the Hantam region. In 1848 the congregation bought 1,200 hectares of the farm Hoogekraal (Ramskop) from Abraham van Wyk.

The name Hantam is derived from the Khoisan word !Han=ami, which refers to a plant with edible roots (Pelargonium bifolium, in Afrikaans "uintjies"). !Han=ami means "where the red bulbs grow".

The first reverend, N.J. Hofmeyr, proposed that the church be named after John Calvin. On 30 Oktober 1851 the town was officially named Calvinia. It became a municipality in 1904.


Calvinia Beautiful Landscapes of Calvinia

Calvinia is located at 31°28?30?S 19°46?22?E (-31.47500, 19.77278).

Calvinia Beautiful Landscapes of Calvinia

The town is 301 kilometers (470 kilometers by tar road) north of Cape Town and lies at an altitude of 970 meters.

The average summer temperature is 22°C, with peaks above 40°C. The average winter temperature is 10°C but can fall to -8°C. On the surrounding mountains, snow falls regularly.

This was the place that Abraham Esau garnered the support of the "Coloured" community to fight for the British against the Boers during the Boer War.


Calvinia Culture of Calvinia

Afrikaans is the main language spoken in Calvinia. The principal religion of the population is Christianity.


The Calvinia Museum is housed in the former art deco styled Jewish synagogue built in 1920. The museum portrays the lives of the early European settlers. It displays a cedarwood horsemill and mounted Cape fat-tailed, Merino and Dorper sheep. Unusual specimens such as a 4-legged ostriche and genetically strange sheep can also be viewed.

The Akkerendam Nature Reserve is located three kilometers north of Calvinia. The reserve offers unique flowers and two hiking trails cross the Hantam mountains. The indigenous and rare sterboom (literally translated "star tree")(Cliffortia arboreais) can be seen here.

The Hantam Meat Festival, an agricultural show and great barbecue (Afrikaans "braai"), take place every year in late August.

The Boekhuis (translated "Book House") was built in 1860 by Jacobus Nel van der Merwe in Cape Dutch style with a concave-convex gable. It is a historical T-shaped house in Water Street and is made available for the exclusive use of writers.


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