Elim, Western Cape, South Africa

Moravian church in Elim.

Elim is an attractive and picturesque town and is only inhabited by members of the Moravian church. It is one of the prettiest of the surviving old-time South African mission stations.

This town dates back to 1824 when Bishop Halbeck of the Moravian Brothers bought the farm Volgelstruikskraal and formed a mission around the old farmhouse. This little mission station was named Elim, and a village gradually formed.

This mission is known to be one of the best preserved of the many Moravian missions in the Cape. Elim is a bit out of the way, but definitely worth the while to visit, especially if you are interested in that aspect of South African history. Another interesting stop is the historic water mill, the oldest of its type in South Africa and a national monument.

Elim is renowned for its thatched roofs, with the thatchers being sought after craftsmen from the area. Every year, just before Easter, all the houses are white-washed, white being a symbol of purity and simplicity. This symbol of white is also present in the church and an integral part of the village's lifestyle.

The best and most interesting way to reach Elim is via Hermanus or Gansbaai on the R43. Turn off to Elim and then, after visiting the mission station, continue on to Bredasdorp and Agulhas. Another option is to travel down the N2 towards Cape Town. You could take the R319 (the Agulhas Road) and, after Bredasdorp, turn off to Elim and then on to Gansbaai and Hermanus.

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