The Dias Museum Complex is the largest of the famous museums found in Mossel Bay and possibly Mossel Bay’s most popular attraction. Mossel Bay, famous for its rich history, is a harbour town in the Garden Route, Western Cape, with a population of roughly 130 000 people. The town lies 400km east of Cape Town and 400km west of Port Elizabeth.
The Dias Museum Complex, situated at 1 Market Street, Mossel Bay, was opened on the 3rd of February 1988. Intended to celebrate the arrival of Bartolomeu Dias and his crew to these shores on the 3rd of February 1488 and to protect the Post Office Tree, the complex now also provides a broader view of the history of Mossel Bay, incorporating environmental, archaeological, and cultural perspectives.
The Dias Museum Complex is made up of several monuments and four different museums, including a shell museum and aquarium, and most notably, the Maritime Museum which houses a life-size replica of the Dias Caravel (ship). Other features include The Granary, historic cottages and graves, an indigenous garden and a fresh water spring. The complex is best known, however, for the famous 500 year old Post Office Tree, guarded by a beautiful statue of Bartolomeu Dias, which was used by sailors in times gone by for the safe delivery of letters.
The story of the Post Office Tree is as follows: In 1501, a Portuguese navigator, Pedro d’Ataide, sought shelter in Mossel Bay after most of his fleet were shipwrecked in a storm. He wrote a letter about the disaster and addressed it to the explorer João da Nova. He then hid the letter in an old shoe which he left in a Milkwood tree located near a spring from which the famous explorer Bartolomeu Dias had once drawn water. The letter was later found by João da Nova and thereafter the tree served as a 'post office' of sorts at which explorers and seamen would leave messages for one another.
As a precursor to the Dias Museum Complex, the Mossel Bay Museum (later known as the Post Tree Museum Complex), was opened in the 1960s.
Passengers on the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, which now travels between the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George and Mossel Bay, are afforded free entrance to the Dias Museum Complex when the train stops at Santos Beach, just North of the Complex.
Dias Museum Complex Physical Address
1 Market Street, Mossel Bay
Tel: 044 691 1067
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