Bellville is a South African city located on the outskirts of Cape Town. While it was originally considered a city of its own (and still is by many residents), due its proximity to the city of Cape Town and the urban expansion that has closed the gap between the two over the years.
Bellville is today incorporated as part of the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality. The area was at one time known as Twelfth Mile Stone, denoting its distance from the Cape Town city center.
The history of Bellville and the surrounding area is closely linked to that of Cape Town and Stellenbosch due to the proximity between these areas (with Bellville forming a convenient halfway point between the two). The area now known as Bellville was originally used as a wagon halt for farmers bringing their produce from the outlying farming areas to be sold in Cape Town. The various buildings and facilities (such as an inn and post office) that were established in the area grew over the years into a settlement of its own right, which was alternatively called Hardekraaltje or Twelfth Mile Stone.
In 1861, this fledgling village was officially established and given the name of Belleville, after Charles Davidson Bell, Surveyor-General of the Cape from 1848 to 1872, and the man responsible for deciding on the exact site of the new town. Bell was also the designer of the first triangular stamps used by the Cape postal service. By 1862, Belleville was connected to Cape Town by rail. After a few name changes over the years, the name was officially changed back to Bellville (albeit with a slightly different spelling) in 1904.
In modern times, Bellville has been the scene of a burgeoning youth culture, particularly in the area of music and the arts, earning it the unofficial title of ‘Bellville Rock City’. A number of prominent South African bands, such as Fokofpolisiekar, Foto Na Dans, Jax Panik, Jack Parow, aKING and Die Heuwels Fantasties all call Bellville home.
As its original name suggests, Bellville is located in the Western Cape, approximately twelve miles (20km) east if the Cape Town city center, between Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The city lies on the slopes of the surrounding Tygerberg mountain range, with the Elsies River as the main watercourse running through the region. The N1 national freeway also provides easy access to the area.
Bellville is home to a number of notable landmarks. The area is located on a number of famous wine routes, and contains many historical buildings (including a police station and Roman Catholic Church). The Grand West Casino and Bellville Golf Course are also major attractions that can be found in the area.
- Bellville is home to approximately 112,507 people, at a population density of around 2100 per square kilometer.
- The majority of the population is white, with Afrikaans being the most widely spoken language.
- Bellville’s covers a total area of around 52km2, and is one of the most rapidly expanding parts of the Cape Town municipality.