15 Best things to do in Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein, affectionately known as Broome (pronounced “Blossom”), is one of South Africa’s three capital cities, along with Cape Town and Pretoria. Occupying mostly flat grassland to the north and west of Lesotho, the largest city in the free state may not be the obvious first tourist destination.

But this sprawling and sophisticated ‘City of Roses‘ has enough charm to last most visitors for several days.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Bloemfontein.  

1. Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery

Part of the Free State University, the Johannes Stegman Art Gallery houses a small permanent collection of South African masters, including works by the so-called Bloemfontein Group and works by the town of Tavernchu, totaling about 150 works. It is on display.

At the end of the school year, the gallery also hosts a temporary exhibition of 4th-grade work. You may find the next Monet or Picasso among them.  

2. Long Tom

Long Tom is the common name for four large cannon-like cannons purchased from France by the Boer Republic to defend against British forces. It was originally used to protect the Boer capital of Pretoria. But it became so famous that replicas were built, including one that can be seen outside Bloemfontein.

Follow the same path and you will reach the Anglo-Boer War blockhouse. Another renovation was a stone-and-steel building that was probably used to protect the Bloemfontein North railway line that continued to connect Johannesburg and Cape Town.  

3. Twin-Spired Church

Tweet “Qelk” in Afrikaans and the exterior of the Twin Spiered Church will remind you of a Disney princess’ little castle. The slightly swaying shape of the towers is produced by the height being reduced by the collapse of one tower and the fear of the other.

Completed in 1880, it is the only religious building of its kind in southern Africa. It is owned by the Dutch Reformed Church, to which most Africans belong. The church is now a national monument and was the site of the swearing-in ceremonies of his three Free State presidents who lived in the former presidential building.  

4. War Museum of the Boer Republics

Known better in many guidebooks as the Anglo-Boer War Museum, it is the only museum in the world dedicated to two wars between Great Britain and the Boer Republic: the Orange Free State and the Transvaal War.

Located next to the National Women’s Monument, the museum explains the major battles and consequences of the two wars before explaining their causes. The dark wood display case looks a little dated, but it’s still an important place for anyone wanting to learn more about South African manufacturing. 

5. Sand du Plessis Theatre

A work of art in itself, Sand du Plessis Theater is one of South Africa’s premier performance venues. A mid-century-style foyer decorated with marble and flooded with natural light from large windows leads to his 1,000-seat auditorium, which has hosted many of the world’s most famous celebrities.

Skateboarders are an integral part of the community and spend weekends practicing tricks with kata. Fascinating interior tours can be arranged for those not in town during the performance. 

6. Rose Festival

The Rose Festival, held each October, is one of Bloemfontein’s biggest events of the year. Held primarily on the Lake Logan waterfront next to Kings Park Rose Garden, the event draws garden enthusiasts from all over South Africa to the ‘City of Roses’.

The festival has expanded to include high tea, 26-, 55- and 106-kilometer road bike races, and a sustainability exhibition, in addition to displaying hundreds of roses, many of which are grown by amateurs. rice field. 

7. National Women’s Memorial

The National Women’s Monument is similar in size to the Washington Monument in D.C. It consists mainly of obelisks made of stone blocks. This memorial was built to commemorate the estimated 27,000 Orange Free State civilian Boer women and children who died in concentration camps set up by the British during the Second Boer War of 1899 to 1902. was built.

The memorial, funded in part by public offering, includes the final resting place of an Englishwoman named Emily Hobhouse. She spoke out against the treatment of Boer women and for their human rights to be respected.  

8. The Old Presidency

The magnificent former presidential palace is located on President Brand Street in the heart of Bloemfontein. Also known as Ou Presidential Mansion in Afrikaans, the mansion was built in the 1880s as the official residence of the then-independent Orange Free State.

At a cost of £12,200, it served as the official residence of three presidents before it was taken over by the British. Over time, it will become a museum chronicling the lives of Presidents Brand, Rights, and Stein. It’s worth exploring to find out what life was like in South Africa during this period in the country’s history.  

9. Happy Valley

Located on the eastern edge of West Dean on the outskirts of Broome, Happy Valley is an area of ​​pristine natural scenery for hikers and off-road cyclists. The trail is a mix of hillside grasslands and wooded sections, generally in the difficult category, but still easy enough for children and experienced hikers.

At 2.7 miles long, you don’t need to plan a day to enjoy Happy Valley. Most people can complete the main hike in about an hour. There are no facilities, but the Olwen House Museum is not far away, so in the morning or afternoon he makes 2 great sights. 

10. Waaihoek Wesleyan Church ANC Birthplace Museum

The humble red-brick church behind the concrete cooling towers of the city’s power plants isn’t usually a tourist attraction. Inscribed on the South African National Heritage List in 2018, the church is believed to be the birthplace of the Indigenous National Congress, which later became the ANC.

Nelson Mandela’s political party, the ANC, which still rules South Africa today, was founded in this church in 1912 by a meeting of representatives, leaders, and influential black scholars. In doing so, the church laid the foundation for decades of protests that ultimately led to the 1994 multiparty elections. 

11. National Museum

The branch of the National Museum in Bloemfontein resembles a natural history museum with collections on life on earth. Among its vast fossil collection is the Florisbud skull, which is of great importance to scientists studying human evolution.

But the exhibition also includes larger themes such as archeology, ethnographic displays, the formation of the solar system, and streetscapes depicting his 20th-century Bloom. Directly in front of the museum is Herzog Square, with an impressive statue dedicated to General Herzog, an important figure in South African political history.  

12. Maselspoort Resort

If you’re looking for a few days of rest and relaxation, the Maselspoort Resort might just be the place for you. This quiet area of ​​Buschveld is about 30 minutes from Broome and is well-known as a place to relax.

Guests can book simple but comfortable chalets and enjoy activities ranging from non-motorized water sports to tennis and hiking trails. However, fishing on the Modder River is in vogue today. 

13. First Raadsaal

Located in the heart of St. George Street, First Radsar is almost buried in new buildings. A simple stone and thatched building houses a museum detailing the history of the Orange Free State.

Built-in 1849, it was built on a dung bed and served as the state’s first capitol or lardsaal. Today, the building is the oldest surviving building in Bloemfontein and has also been used as a church and school throughout its history. If you’re strolling down St George Street, consider visiting the Wagon Museum next door. 

14. Oliewenhuis Art Museum

The building that houses the Olliewenhaus Museum is a Cape Dutch mansion that looks much older but was actually built in 1935. It has been the residence of the Governor-General of South Africa and subsequent presidents and has hosted King George VI. and Princess Elizabeth – later Queen Elizabeth II.

Converted into a museum in the 1980s, her ground floor showcases her 20th-century artwork, mostly by South African artists. There are several short walking paths through the grassy grounds, leading to a large number of sculptures in various styles.  

15. Franklin Game Reserve

At the Franklin Game Reserve, you can see zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes up close without the protection of zoo fences or safari vehicles. It is a hill reserve completely surrounded by the city and is located on Naval Hill. The 250-hectare facility has served as a unique haven for almost 100 years.

It is accessible by car, but the paths are wide enough that walking is the best way to encounter wildlife. However, be aware that it will take at least an hour to circumnavigate the grounds, and the tall grass may limit your chances of viewing. 

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