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South Africa Holiday: Grahamstown

Founded in 1812, Grahamstown is in the centre of Frontier Country in the Eastern Cape. This is where the amaXhosa fought for one hundred years to preserve their independence and heritage in a land of spectacular scenery and rare beauty.

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Colonel John Graham established Grahamstown in 1812. His brief was to survey the frontier and establish a series of forts along the Fish River, the newly proclaimed Cape Colony border with Xhosa territories.
It was the first town to be established by the British in South Africa, its location being primarily chosen for the perceived abundance of water. It remained a military garrison and was the site of the famous 1819 attack by Nxele (Makana) in his attempt to halt the European incursion into Xhosa territory.
Church Square, Grahamstown
A bitter battle, described as the most significant in South African history, ensued in which the amaXhosa were finally forced to withdraw after the timely arrival of a group of Khoi-Khoi hunters under the leadership of Jan Boesak.
Today the battle area is known by the local people as Egazini, meaning the "Place of Blood". A monument to the Xhosa warriors who died defending their homeland has been erected and specialist guides are at hand to lead tours of the battlefield.
As a result of this battle it was decided to settle 4,000 Britons in the area to consolidate British occupation of the territory. Their influence on subsequent South African history was far reaching and way out of proportion to their limited numbers compared to the local inhabitants.
After the arrival of the white settlers, Grahamstown grew rapidly to become the second largest town in South Africa after Cape Town. As military activity moved further east and north, education took over as its main infrastructure.
Now no longer the scene of conflict and strife, Frontier Country remains spectacularly beautiful. In its natural state, it is one of the most diverse regions on earth. Much of the pristine indigenous flora and fauna is still very accessible, making for breath-taking views, experiences and memories.
Xhosa children in GrahamstownFrontier Country is also a meeting place for four major weather systems, which share a common boundary, hence the incredibly diverse environment. A trip through Frontier Country exposes the traveler to spectacular mountain ranges, valleys, lush forests, scrub bush and some of the most spectacular and unspoiled beaches our country has to offer.
Today Grahamstown has more than 70 National Heritage sites. One of these is the highest church spire in the country, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), the architect of many famous buildings of the Victorian era, including the Albert Memorial in London's Kensington Gardens and St Pancras Station in London.
Grahamstown remains an important educational and cultural centre today, with easy access to game reserves and the unspoilt beaches of the Sunshine Coast. The surrounding area is farmed, largely for chicory, pineapples, ostriches, sheep and game. The city is also an important legal centre.
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