Nieu-Bethesda is a village in the Eastern Cape at the foot of the Sneeuberg Mountains, approximately 50 kilometres from Graaff Reinet. It was founded in 1875 as a church town, like many other Karoo villages, and attained municipal status in 1886. The name is of biblical origin and means "place of flowing water".
What to expect
In the 1930s, a Nieu Bethesda-born teacher known as Helen Martins returned to the town. After her father's death in 1945, Martins began transforming her home into a work of art. She employed Koos Malgas, a Nieu Bethesda local to assist her with her artwork. She and Malgas constructed cement and glass statues inspired by biblical texts, the poetry of Omar Khayyam, and the works of William Blake.
In 1976, Martins aged 78, took her own life by swallowing caustic soda. Her house, known as The Owl House, is now a major tourist attraction.
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