Babylonstoren is a South African Treasure


Marilyn JonesA decade ago Karen Roos, a magazine editor and lover of South Africa's Dutch Cape history, purchased a fruit and wine farm dating back to the late 17th century. She renamed it Babylonstoren and set about transforming it into the showplace it is today.


Located near Franschhoek, it was in 1692 the land was granted to burgher Pieter van der Byl by the then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. Prior to that, the Drakenstein Valley was inhabited by the nomadic Khoisan communities for centuries. Van der Byl planted the first vineyards on the farm and altered the water courses to provide irrigation.

The Garden

Instead of wandering the property on my own, I take a guided tour through the property; a maze of fruits, vegetables, trees and lovely flowers framed by the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek mountains.


Our guide tells the group that some of the earliest farm structures are still on the farm and used today including a manor house dating to 1777 as well as the Koornhuis (for storing wheat), the old cellar, fowl house, dovecote, the leaning bell tower and the historic gates. A cow shed was transformed into Babel restaurant where I would later have lunch.

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