Paarl is the third oldest European settlement in the Republic of South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch) and forms part of the Western Cape Province. The district is particularly well known for its Pearl Mountain or Paarl Rock. This huge granite rock is formed by three rounded outcrops that make up Paarl Mountain and has been compared in majesty to Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) in Australia.
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Paarl is home to a prosperous community, with many well maintained and attractive Cape Dutch houses, beautiful gardens and streets lined with old oak trees.
Paarl boasts a unique cultural attraction: it was here that the foundations of the Afrikaans language were laid by the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners. The Afrikaanse Taalmonument (monument to the Afrikaans language) on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum and the Afrikaans Language Route through Dal Josaphat are memorials to this achievement.
The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings (17-19th Century), scenic drives, hiking trails and the Paarl wine route, with its many wine tasting opportunities (including vintages from the famous Nederburg estate) and excellent restaurants.
The Paarl Rock itself is these days a popular Mecca for rock climbers. However, in the pioneering period of rock climbing in South Africa, the mountain was ignored or shunned because its steep faces were so smooth and unfissured that climbers could find no place to attach runners or anchor points for belays.