—  Town  —
Mountains of the Swartberg Pass near Oudtshoorn after a dusting of snow in July
Oudtshoorn is located in Western Cape
Coordinates: 33°35′S 22°12′E / 33.583°S 22.2°E / -33.583; 22.2Coordinates: 33°35′S 22°12′E / 33.583°S 22.2°E / -33.583; 22.2
Country South Africa
Province Western Cape
District municipality Eden
Local municipality Oudtshoorn
Time zone SAST (UTC+2)

Oudtshoorn is a town in the Western Cape province in South Africa. With 80,336 inhabitants it is the largest town in the Little Karoo region. The town is home to the world's largest Ostrich population with a number of specialized ostrich breeding farms such as the Safari Show Farm and the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm.



A historical building in the town

The area in which Oudtshoorn is situated was originally inhabited by the Bushmen, as evidenced by the many rock paintings that are found in caves throughout the surrounding Swartberg mountains.

The first European explorers of the area was a trading party led by a certain Ensign Shrijver, who were guided there by a Griqua via an ancient elephant trail in January 1689. The expedition reached as far as present-day Aberdeen before turning back and exiting the Klein Karoo valley through Attaquas Kloof on 16 March of the same year. However, it was only a hundred years later that the first farmers started settling in the region.

The first large permanent structure of the Klein Karoo, a church of the Dutch Reformed denomination, was first erected in 1839 near the banks of the Grobbelaars River. The village (and later town) of Oudtshoorn gradually grew around this church; it was named after Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn, who was appointed Governor of the Cape Colony in 1772 but died on the voyage out.

A small one-room school was opened in 1858, followed by the formation of a municipality and the founding of an Agricultural Society in 1859. During the same year work was also started on a larger church to replace the original small one.

Unfortunately, 1859 also signalled the start of a long and serious drought which severely depressed the national economy - by 1865 there was serious poverty. When the drought was finally broken by floods in 1869 the depression lifted and Oudtshoorn was transformed from a struggling village to a town of great prosperity.

At one time there was a large Jewish immigrant population mostly from Lithuania and the town was known in the Jewish world as "Jerusalem of Africa".

First Ostrich Boom

The main reason for the large rise in prosperity was the ostrich, whose feathers had become extremely popular as fashion accessories in Europe; they were especially popular for use on hats. Between 1875 and 1880 ostrich prices reached up to GBP 1,000 a pair. The farmers of the region, realising that ostriches were far more profitable than any other activity, ripped out their other crops and planted lucerne, which was used as feed for the ostriches. The rising wealth also finally allowed for the completion of the Dutch Reformed Church - it was opened on 7 June 1879.

Owing to overproduction, the ostrich industry experienced a sudden slump in fortunes in 1885; the town's misery was compounded when it was hit by severe flooding during the same year, which washed away the nearby Victoria Bridge which had been built over the Olifants River only the year before.

Second Ostrich Boom

The ostrich industry recovered only slowly and it was not until after the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902 that a second and bigger boom started. It was during this period that most of Oudtshoorn's famously opulent "Feather Palaces" were built. This boom peaked in 1913, before collapsing in 1914. As a result the region's economy was ruined and most farmers returned to more traditional crops.

Society and culture


C. J. Langenhoven, the town's most famous inhabitant, rose to prominence during the post-collapse period. Considered by many to be one of the fathers of Afrikaans, Langenhoven was a prodigious writer who provided much of the literature that formed the backbone of the Afrikaans language during its early development.


The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, better known as the ABSA KKNK, ("Little Karoo National Arts Festival"), South Africa's largest Afrikaans language arts festival[citation needed], takes place in the town on a yearly basis.

Museums, monuments and memorials


Although Oudtshoorn is moderate in size, it is "church-rich". The oldest church is the Dutch Reformed Church (erected in 1837), situated on the corner of Church Street and High Street. Other churches include, Apostolic Faith Mission, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Roman Catholic (Roman Catholic Diocese of Oudtshoorn) and other traditional churches. In recent years, the number of Independent churches (also referred to as non denominational churches) have grown dramatically. Independent Churches include the River of Life Church, New Life Ministries, The Vineyard and the Oudtshoorn Community Church.[1]

Educational Institutions

Apart from the many high schools in Oudtshoorn, there are also many independent tertiary educational institutions, including the South Cape College,[2] Principia College and Timothy Training Institute.[3]


Oudtshoorn is the start of the Route 62 wine route. Some of the best South African Port style wines are produced in the area surrounding Oudsthoorn.

Rock Climbing

There is world class sport climbing 30 km north of Oudtshoorn (near the Cango Caves). The rock is limestone and the routes are mostly overhanging with awesome stalactites. There are +/-30 single pitch bolted routes, up to 35m long. The climbing is located around the De Hoek Resort camp site.


Tourist information

Oudtshoorn and De Rust are managed by Greater Oudtshoorn Tourism.[4]

Oudtshoorn's tourism office (GOT) is centrally situated in Voortrekker Road (next to the CP Nel Museum). Their contact details are: Landline: +27 (0)44 279 2533. Website: www.oudtshoorn.com

Tourist attractions

Tourist attractions in Oudtshoorn and the surrounding areas include:

The area is also famed for its biodiversity, with the area home to an unusually large number of species of succulent plant. There are also several wine producers in the region.

Famous people

External links


  1. ^ http://www.oudtshoorninfo.com/gen_info.php?action=show_article&id=163&category=97
  2. ^ http://www.sccollege.co.za
  3. ^ http://www.timothy.org.za
  4. ^ http://www.oudtshoorn.com
  5. ^ http://www.cango.co.za
  6. ^ http://www.oudtshoornballooning.co.za

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Oudtshoorn — Oudtshoorn …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • OUDTSHOORN — OUDTSHOORN, town in the Cape midlands of the Republic of South Africa. For many years Oudtshoorn was the center of the ostrich feather industry, and Jewish immigrants played an outstanding part in its development. Arriving in the area about 1880 …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Oudtshoorn —   [ ɔu̯tshoːrn], Stadt in der Provinz West Kap, Republik Südafrika, 307 m über dem Meeresspiegel, 52 600 Einwohner; katholischer Bischofssitz. Oudtshoorn ist Hauptort der Kleinen Karru mit reichem Bewässerungsanbau (Tabak, Obst, Gemüse, Getreide …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Oudtshoorn — (spr. auts), Division im südwestlichen Teil der britisch südafrikan. Kapkolonie, durchzogen vom Olifantfluß, südlich des Groote Zwarte Berg, 4281 qkm mit (1891) 23,870 Einw. (davon 11,576 Weiße). Im Tal des Olifantflusses gedeiht der beste Tabak… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Oudtshoorn — 33°35′35″S 22°12′6″E / 33.59306, 22.20167 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oudtshoorn — /ohts hawrn /, n. a city in the S Cape of Good Hope province, in the S Republic of South Africa. 28,800. * * * ▪ South Africa       town, Western Cape province, South Africa. It is located about midway between Cape Town (west) and Port Elizabeth… …   Universalium

  • Oudtshoorn — Original name in latin Oudtshoorn Name in other language OUH, Oudtshoorn State code ZA Continent/City Africa/Johannesburg longitude 33.59067 latitude 22.2014 altitude 323 Population 76708 Date 2012 07 12 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Oudtshoorn — geographical name city S Republic of South Africa in Western Cape province E of Cape Town population 34,124 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Oudtshoorn — /ohts hawrn /, n. a city in the S Cape of Good Hope province, in the S Republic of South Africa. 28,800 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Oudtshoorn (Gemeinde) — Oudtshoorn Oudtshoorn Local Municipality Symbole …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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