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South Africa
the Orange Free State
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About Location

Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and poetically known as "the city of roses", owing to the abundance of these flowers and the annual rose festival held there.The city's Sesotho name is Mangaung, meaning "place of cheetahs" and it has been included in the Mangaung Local Municipality since 2000.Bloemfontein is situated on dry grassland at an altitude of 1,395 metres above sea level.The city is home to 369,568 residents, while the Mangaung Local Municipality has a population of 645,455.Bloemfontein is served by Bloemfontein Airport.

Though historically a predominantly Afrikaner settlement, Bloemfontein was officially founded in 1846 as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost in the Transoranje region, at that stage occupied by various groups of peoples including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Griqua and Basotho.Although modern day Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers in an otherwise arid region, the origin of the city's name is unclear.Popular legends include an ox named "Bloem" owned by one of the pioneer farmers that was taken by a lion near a fountain on his property, while another story names Jan Blom (1775–1858), a Korana KhoiKhoi leader who inhabited the area.Bloemfontein literally means fountain of flowers or flower spring in Dutch.With colonial policy shifts, the region changed into the Orange River Sovereignty (1848–1854) and eventually the Orange Free State Republic (1854–1902).From 1902–1910 it served as the capital of the Orange River Colony and since that time as the provincial capital of the Free State.In 1910 it became the Judicial capital of the Union of South Africa.

The Free State Stadium and the surrounding sports complex is the main sports venue in the city and province.The venue was the hosting stadium of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa matches played in Bloemfontein.There are several other sports venues in the city, however, including facilities belonging to the university, schools and sports clubs.Bloemfontein is joint home (together with nearby Botshabelo) to Premier Soccer League team Bloemfontein Celtic.Some of the matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup were played at the Free State Stadium, including the historic 4–1 defeat of England by Germany in the round of 16.Bloemfontein's Free State Stadium is home to two rugby union teams; the Central Cheetahs franchise who compete in the Super 15 and the Free State Cheetahs who play in the domestic Currie Cup.The Free State Cheetahs won the Currie Cup in 2005 against the Blue Bulls, they drew the final with the Blue Bulls in 2006 and retained the Currie Cup title in 2007 by beating the Golden Lions resulting in the Free State Cheetahs remaining Currie Cup champions until 2008 when the failed to make the final for the first time since 2004. 2009 saw the Cheetahs return to the Currie Cup final but they were unable to beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

Visitors to Bloemfontein have the unique opportunity to interact with cheetahs, lions, leopards, and tigers, as well as with other animals that have been rescued at the Cheetah Experience in the suburb of Bainsvlei, only 5mins from the centre of Bloemfontein.Touching of animals is allowed and coming face to face with these creatures outside of a zoo environment is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.One can also enjoy a day or a sleep over at the Bloemfontein Zoo. Zoo Snoozes are only one of the activities arranged by Friends of the Bloemfontein Zoo.Boyden Observatory, a unique astronomy research and educational centre outside the city, offers public open evenings on certain nights during the year, arranged by the Friends of Boyden Observatory. Groups can also visit the observatory for exclusive evenings on appointment.Atop Naval Hill is the Franklin Game Reserve.It was named after John Franklin, South African Senator, attorney and Mayor of Bloemfontein in the 1930s.

How to Reach

By Air

Bloemfontein Airport is just outside the city and a number of flights to major South African cities take off from here, operated by South African Airways and SA Airlink and Mango airlines fly to Cape Town.

By Train

Bloemfontein is a major rail junction in the middle of South Africa.From here, Spoornet operates regular trains to all points of the country : south to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Mthatha, west to Kimberley, north to Johannesburg and east to Durban and Pietermaritzburg.The train station is in the city centre, on the corner of Maitland and Harvey streets.

By Car

The N1, N6 and N8 national highways meet in Bloemfontein, making it easily reachable from any part of the country.The N1 northbound from Bloemfontein towards Gauteng is a toll road.

By Bus

A number of bus services offer connections to major South African cities.

Key places to visit
Bloemfontein Zoo, National Museum Bloemfontein, Sand du Plessis Theatre, Soetdoring Dam Nature Reserve, Anglo Boer War Museum and Battlefields


Places to Visit

Bloemfontein Zoo

One can also enjoy a day or a sleep over at the Bloemfontein Zoo.Zoo Snoozes are only one of the activities arranged by Friends of the Bloemfontein Zoo.Boyden Observatory, a unique astronomy research and educational centre outside the city, offers public open evenings on certain nights during the year, arranged by the Friends of Boyden Observatory.Groups can also visit the observatory for exclusive evenings on appointment.

National Museum Bloemfontein

The National Museum in the judicial capital of South Africa, known as the city of roses, has as its motto - Curator Hereditatis which means that it regards itself as the custodian of our heritage, which it is in quite a big way.The National Museum in Bloemfontein has been in existence since 1877, when it began collecting and displaying rarities from around the world.Today the museum focuses on natural history and cultural history sciences, as well as art, and it has established some important collections.The palaeontology / anthropology and archaeology section is probably one of the more interesting areas of the museum - it takes us back to what our world must have been like millions of years ago.The museum has an extensive collection of fossils and archaeological material that includes the Florisbad Skull, one of the largest known dinosaurs.There is an ethnological section too, with fascinating displays on the Bushmen, and a replica of a Victorian Bloemfontein street scene.Even the museum’s restaurant is Victorian-style, whilst the shop offers a range of curios and gifts from which to choose.

Sand du Plessis Theatre

Completed in 1985 at a cost of over R60 million, the Sand du Plessis complex is one of the most modern theatres in the world.The facade features massive glass panels; and works of art form part of the decor.Throughout the year, the theatre is the venue for opera, ballet, drama and music performances.

Soetdoring Dam Nature Reserve

Soetdoring Nature Reserve has two entrances.The eastern entrance is at the Modder River on the Bloemfontein / Bultfontein road (R700).Here visitors enjoy angling, pic-nicing and game viewing. Braai (BBQ) facilities are located along the river and the dam.The Modder River entrance is at the eastern boundary and runs through the 7 500 ha reserve before entering the Krugersdrift Dam which forms the western boundary.Gemsbok have found sanctuary here, along with eland, springbok, blesbok, black wildebeest, zebra and red hartebeest that roam the open plains of the Soetdoring nature reserve, while impala and kudu may be encountered in the riverine bush. Steenbok, duiker and mountain reedbuck have been here since the days this was farmland.

Anglo Boer War Museum and Battlefields

There is no need to drive to KwaZulu Natal if you are in Bloemfontein and are interested in the Anglo Boer war.There are plenty of battlefield sites around the Bloemfontein area and good place to start is the Anglo-Boer War Museum on Monument Road.It is believed that this museum is the only one in the world dedicated to the Anglo Boer War and along with displays of the war that continued from 1899 to 1902, there is also a Women’s Memorial.The museum staff are very knowledgeable and will give directions to battlefield sites.Opening hours Monday to Friday from 08h30 to 16h30.Saturday from 10h00 to 17h00.Sunday from 14h00 to 17h00.Public holidays from 09h00 to 17h00.Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.

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