Groote Kerk oldest church in Cape Town

The Groote Kerk Dutch Reformed Church is one of the impressive buildings on Church Square. The church was built a year after the building housing Labotessa was completed.

The Church is the oldest place of Christian worship in South Africa, first built in 1678 on land which was then part of The Company’s Garden, and a burial ground.

The Church was rebuilt, Governor Willem Adrian van der Stel laying its first stones in 1700. An organ was added in 1737. Leading Dutch Governors of the Cape are buried in vaults in the church, including Simon van der Stel, Ryk Tulbagh, and Pieter Baron van Rheede Oudtshoorn.

Outgrowing its congregation, the church size was increased over the years. In 1779 a new pulpit designed by Anton Anreith was added, still in the current day church. A leaking roof and maintenance requirements led to the church building being demolished, and the current day church built, only retaining the original steeple and vestry.  Whilst the church was rebuilt, the building housing Labotessa was used as the Congregational Church.  The new Groote Kerk building was inaugurated in 1841, and is used for sermons and concerts to this day.

 

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