The story of Libertas

The story of Libertas

Stellenbosch has 4 Libertas stories

Oude Libertas is a well-known amphitheater with a popular slow market.

Klein Libertas is a theater complex that recently burnt down.

Libertas Street is located in the neighbourhood of Karindal.

Libertas Parva is a series of historic buildings in Dorp Street.

Interesting facts about each:

Oude Libertas

Oude Libertas was one of the very first farms in Stellenbosch.

The first owner of the farm was a certain Jan Bombam, who acquired the land on November 23, 1689 (4 years after Stellenbosch officially became a town). The farm covered 44 morgen of land, about 37 hectares in today’s terms.

His successor Hans Jurgen Grimpe acquired the farm in 1692, and was one of the four men chosen to serve on the first ‘heemraad’ (heemraad = ‘Home council’). The other 3 was Gerhard vd Bijl, Henning Husing and Hendrik Elberts).

Stellenbosch’s first bridge was built on the old Libertas farm. The heemraad identified a place on Grimpe’s farm at the intersection of the Eerste River and Dwarsrivier, and erected the first public bridge there (the “plankenbrug“).

Adam Tas also owned and lived on Libertas farm (after marrying Grimpe’s widow). According to legend, the word ‘Libertas’ had a special meaning for him as it suggested a ‘word play’ on his imprisonment. Tas + Liberty = LiberTas.

Tassenberg wine is one of the most famous wine products produced in the cellars opposite Oude Libertas, at Distell.

Klein Libertas

The Klein Libertas theater group was founded in the 1960s.

For the first few years, the club gathered in the old Vredelust wine cellar in Dorpstraat, belonging to Mr and Mrs Krige. The founders of the group were Charles Johnman, Myril Ginsburg, Marie Malherbe, Marie van Heerden and Jane Turner. The cellar theater was so simple that people often brought their own chairs to see the performance. Lighting and requisition were only purchased years later. The club’s vision was to have at least one public theater performance per year apart from in-house performances (Drie eeue p. 403).

When the farm Vredelust was sold in 1967, the municipality selected the old Bergzicht stable to be the new venue of the theater. The name Bergzicht plaza also comes from this historic farm.

Over the years Klein Libertas theater has played a tremendous role in the community and become an established cultural center.

On June 13, 2015, the whole theater was destroyed in a fire. Visit their website for more info.

Libertas Parva

Libertas Parva is not just one building, but a building complex. It is characterized by the large wooden wine press visible from the R44 intersection.

The beautiful row of white houses in 25-33 Dorp Street also forms part of it.

The oldest building in the complex dates from around 1783, and its gable from 1819. In the late 1960s, the estate was bought by the Rembrandt group. It was also declared a national monument in 1977.



Stellenbosch drie Eeue (1979)


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