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City Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is the capital of the Free State Province and is pretty much in the middle of South Africa. Perhaps you will see the Free State Stadium in this city used during the World Cup. The city is known as "the city of roses" as there grows a lot of roses in the spring despite quite dry land. The Voortrekkers (originally Dutch settlers) landed in this area down when they moved to the north-east from the Cape. However, it was the British who officially founded Bloemfontein in 1846. In the Sesotho (the language of the black population in this area), the city is called Mangaung which means "place of cheetahs".

The reign of the British ran into opposition of the Afrikaners and Bloemfontein was no exception. In 1899 the city was the scene of the Bloemfontein Conference, where the United Kingdom and the South African Republic (represented by Paul Kruger) met. Unfortunately, it was not a solution and this marked the beginning of the Second Freedom War (Second Anglo-Boer War). Today you can find the National Women's Monument that commemorates the many women and children of Dutch and Afrikaner descent that died in concentration camps by the British on the outskirts of the city like in Bloemfontein.

For those who want to know more about this history a visit to the Anglo Boer War museum is a must. The staff can inform you about battlefields in the area. One of the most striking buildings in Bloemfontein is the "Raadsaal" built in 1893 in Renaissance style.

The area where Bloemfontein now lies was once home to cheetahs. Today you can see these magnificent animals up close at the Cheetah Experience on the Emoya Estate. This project is focused on the preservation of the cheetah and where many other young animals are born. So you not only have the opportunity to touch a cheetah, but with a bit of luck young lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards and wolves too. You will find the Cheetah Experience in the suburb of Bainsvlei.

Lovers of trees and plants can visit the Free State National Botanical Gardens where you can admire more than 400 plant species from the Free State, Northern Cape and Lesotho.

Art lovers can best visit the Oliewenhout Art Museum. The first floor is reserved only for South African artists and you will find, among other works, the first African artists such as Thomas Baines, Jan Ernst Volschenk, Pieter Wenning and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef.

What many do not know is that the well-known English writer J.R.R. Tolkien was born here and spent the first few years of his life here before moving to England with his parents.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist!