The Free State’s provincial capital and judicial capital, Bloemfontein (or Bloem as it’s commonly known), is rich in history with fine examples of late 19th and early 20th century buildings as well as museums and monuments. The city has an urban game reserve, an excellent art museum and a peaceful pace.
Known as the “city of roses” Bloemfontein is rumoured to have been named after roses growing around a fountain on a Dutch settler’s farm. It is home to the 1929 Appeal Court, the highest court in South Africa, as well as the City Hall, a monumental structure built in 1934, and the Fourth Raadsaal, an imposing sandstone building and former parliament house of the Free State republic.
Bloemfontein is one of the few cities in the world where you can spot wildlife in the centre of the city. Franklin Game Reserve is on a hill in the heart of the city, and has giraffe and small game.
Bloemfontein is close to the Free State’s regional attractions, which include Golden Gate National Park, the Gariep Dam and the Vredefort Dome, the oldest impact crater in the world, and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Culture and heritage
For insight into the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 -1902, visit the Anglo-Boer War Museum with its art collection, dioramas and interesting exhibits. The museum is situated on the site of the 1913 National Women’s Memorial, which commemorates the 26 000 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.
The Bloemfontein National Museum has anthropological and cultural displays, as well as natural history and astronomy exhibits. The museum is noted for its dinosaur fossil collection and an interesting recreation of a 19th century Bloemfontein street.
The highlight of Bloemfontein’s museums is the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, a 1930s mansion set in large, attractive gardens. The museum houses a good range of South African sculpture and painting, with works by Anton von Wouw, Lien Botha and Norman Catherine.
Parks and gardens
Franklin Game Reserve is located on Naval Hill in the centre of the city and offers an escape into nature with its wildlife, abundant bird species, and indigenous flora.
King’s Park, opened by the Prince of Wales in 1925, has more than 4000 rose trees in the rose garden.
The Mystic Boer is Bloem’s most popular pub and live music venue.
Cool Runnings has live bands and DJs at weekends.
Sand du Plessis theatre holds performances of live music, ballet, drama and opera.
Bloemfontein’s centre is small enough to navigate on foot. If you need to go a bit further, the best mode of transport would be a metered taxi or a hired car.
Europcar has branches at the airport and downtown. Tel +27-51-448-4530.
Tempest Car Hire can be found at the airport. Tel +27-51-433-2146.
Sixt has a branch at the airport. Tel +27-51-433-3577.
Avis has two branches in Bloemfontein – in the city and at the airport. Tel +27-51-433-2331.
Call to hire taxis
Rooikat Taxis. Tel +27-51-522-5446.
Silver Leaf Taxis. Tel +27-51-430-2005.
Pro Taxi. Tel +27-51-523-3779.
Minibus taxis can be hailed.
Free State Stadium was recently refurbished to increase its has to 45 000. Six matches will be played at the stadium: five first round matches, and one second round match.
The official Bloemfontein fan park will be either located at Hoffman Square or the Mangaung Outdoor Sports Centre. Other public viewing areas include the Mabana Stadium in Thaba Nchu as well as the area outside the Botshabelo Stadium.