Founded in 1851 on the Oorlogskloof River and named after religious
reformer John Calvin, Calvinia lies at the foot of the Hantam
Mountains. Hantam being a Khoi word meaning "where the red
bulbs grow". Calvinia is the regions key growth point
and one of the countrys largest wool-producing areas.
The museum is housed in the art deco Old Synagogue built in 1920
and exhibits portray the lives of the early European settlers.
A cedarwood horsemill and a display of mounted Cape fat-tailed,
Merino and Dorper sheep relate the history of the area. The Hantam
House is built in Cape Dutch style with a concave-convex gable.
Retaining its original cedarwood woodwork, traditional delicacies
are served in an exclusive coffee house built in the original
There are various 4x4 routes, some steeped in Anglo-Boer War
history, along the escarpment with picturesque views and bushman
paintings along the riverbed with huge Namaqua fig trees clinging
to the rock surfaces. These are a must during spring when thick
carpets of Namaqualand flowers adorn the countryside.
Calvinia enjoys almost 80% starlight and the night sky is as
much an attraction for city-dwellers and astronomers as the rare
sterboom is for botanists and horticulturists. The Akkerendam
Nature Reserve offers two trails across the Hantam Mountain, affording
you the opportunity to take in magnificent scenery, study the
sterboom and up to 65 species of birds.