A brief description
Graaff-Reinet was founded in 1786 by the VOC Dutch East India Company. It was named after the then governor of the Cape Colony, Cornelis Jacob van de Graeff,
and his wife whose maiden name was "Reynet". Graaff-Reinet was declared a republic in 1795 when the local burghers under the exactions of the VOC, expelled the
Landdrost. In 1801 there was another revolt in Graaff-Reinet, but thanks to the conciliatory measures of General F Dundas (acting governor of the Cape Colony)
peace was soon restored. It was this district, where a republican government in South Africa was first proclaimed, which furnished large numbers of the Voortrekkers
in 1835-1842. Graaff-Reinet was also the center of the British military operations for the whole Eastern Cape area during the Second Boer War. Graaff-Reinet is also
known for the captured Boers that were tried in the town for crimes ranging from high treason, murder, attempted murder, arson and robbery during the year of 1901.
Nine were sentenced to death, with eight of these being executed by firing squad on the outskirts of the town, while the ninth sentence was carried out in Colesberg.
Due to these acts a Memorial was made in there honour, The Burgher Monument in Donkin Street commemorates the fallen rebels.
Graaff-Reinet lies about 750 meters above sea level which is equal to about 2,460ft. The town is built on the bank of the Sunday's River and it rises a little to the North. Surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park, Graaff-Reinet is in the heart of the “Great Karoo”. Graaff-Reinet, the fourth oldest town in South Africa, is recognized as the home of magnificent examples of Cape Dutch architecture, and over 220 heritage sites. The Dutch Reformed church in the town is a prominent stone building in the high street with seating accommodation for 1500 people. The building is influenced by the architecture of Salisbury Cathedral in London.