The 1820 Settlers Monument commemorates the arrival of the first British immigrants to the Cape. This Grahamstown historical monument was opened in 1974 as and was intended as a centre for debate. Now it's the headquarters for South Africa's premier annual arts festival, the National Arts Festival.

Did you know?

The monument's facade is designed to look like scaffolding to denote a work in progress.

The 1820 Settlers Monument, opened on 13 July 1974, was built to acknowledge the role of English settlers in the history of the Eastern Cape and takes the form of a large building on a hillside overlooking the university town of Grahamstown.

Since 1976 this Grahamstown historical monument has been at the heart of the National Arts Festival, which attracts around 200 000 visitors each year during the winter holidays, and although it partially burnt down in 1994 it has been rebuilt with many of its original features.

Thus, unlike many other monuments and memorials, the 1820 Settlers Monument is a living place that is constantly abuzz with activities and visitors.

The focus is on democracy and the facilities are intended for use by all South Africans with a particular emphasis on the use of the English language in the arts and its associated freedoms.

As a result of this, the monument is home to several highly successful educational and cultural projects.

It has several venues, making it an ideal multi-purpose destination for conferences, conventions and festivals. These include the Fountain Court, the Guy Butler Theatre, the Council Chamber, the Thomas Pringle Hall, Ntsikana Gallery, Atherstone Room & Yellowwood Terrace, the Olive Schreiner hall, the Visitors Lounge and the Monument Restaurant. These venues range in capacity from around 10 people up to 1000.

Aside from the National Arts Festival, the monument also hosts art exhibitions, theatre productions, corporate dinners and private events all year round. It hosts workshops, educational projects and community undertakings.

This means that there is always something to see, do or enjoy at this historical monument in Grahamstown, at any time of the year.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Grahamstown Foundation
Tel: +27 (0)46 603 1100

How to get here

The 1820 Settlers Monument overlooks Grahamstown. The closest airport is in Port Elizabeth, approximately 2 hours' drive away.

Best time to visit

Grahamstown is especially pretty in spring. Try avoid the crush during the beginning of university term in February. The National Arts Festival takes place in winter and can be bitterly cold, so be prepared with heavy winter clothing.

Around the area

There are many historical monuments in Grahamstown, and a number of game parks and nature reserves in the surrounding area.

Get around

Grahamstown is a small - and beautiful - town, perfect for walking.

What will it cost

Entrance to the monument itself is free of charge.

Length of stay

Half a day for the memorial but a few days or more if you want to explore the town and the surrounding area.

What to pack

Winters can be extremely cold so don't forget the warm clothes, mitts, scarves and beanies.

Where to stay

Grahamstown has a variety of accommodation options, many housed in historic buildings, that will suit all tastes and pockets.

What's happening

Don't miss the National Arts Festival held in June and July.

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