Religious tolerance is one of South Africa’s incredible assets, visible in its wealth of old churches, mosques and synagogues. From the massive Dutch Reformed monoliths, one fashioned after the Salisbury Cathedral, rising out of towns like Graaff-Reinet and Merweville, to the quaint old, English stone or whitewashed chapels on Van Reenen’s Pass and in Struisbaai to what is possibly the smallest church in the Southern Hemisphere, churches will be our first focus, a selection to look out for as you drive through the country.

merweville south africa church travel
A Dutch Reformed church in the tiny Western Cape town Merweville. Named after the then minister in Beaufort West, Pieter van der Merwe, construction of the church was delayed by the Boer War. Like many Karoo towns, it boasted a sizable Jewish community
saint john anglican church victoria west south africa
St. John’s Anglican Church, built in 1869, Victoria West. Photo: Ted Botha.
dutch reformed church south africa graaff reinet
In Graaff-Reinet in April 1886 the foundation stone was laid for the fourth and existing Dutch Reformed Church, which is Gothic Revival and based on the lines of Salisbury Cathedral in England Photo: Ted Botha.
Bosjes chapel south africa churches
The award-winning design of Bosjes Chapel by Coetzee Steyn, on a vineyard outside Worcester, has gained it accolades from around the world including the 2019 A+Award Popular Choice Award in the Religious Building & Memorials category.
church greek orthodox south africa
The tiny Greek Orthodox church designed by Jack van Rensburg in Onrus. Photo: Andre Pretorius, Stellenbosch University.
holy trinity braamfontein church south africa johannesburg
The sculpture ‘Homeless Jesus’ lies outside the Holy Trinity Church that adjoins the Wits campus in Braamfontein. Photo: Gus Silber.
cradock church south africa
The Dutch Reformed Moederkerk in Cradock. Photo by Ted Botha.
Church Struisbaai South Africa
The old Anglican church in Struisbaai is a national monument.
dutch reformed church richmond south africa
The Dutch-Reformed Church in Richmond, Northern Cape. Photo: Ted Botha.
cape town church tokai south africa old chapel
The Tokai Stone Church in Cape Town dates from the 1890s.
south africa's smallest church
Possibly the smallest church south of the Equator. On Van Reenen’s Pass between Harrismith and Ladysmith is what some say is the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world. The chapel was built as a memorial by a father for his lost son, Llandaff Matthews (and is also known as the Llandaff Oratory), who died after bravely rescuing eight people in a coal-mining accident in March 1925. The church only has 8 seats inside (see below), representing each of the people that Llandaff bravely saved.

south africa's smallest church

If you have photos to share of any synagogues or mosques in South Africa, please send them to us at – thank you!