Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa.

Bloemfontein is the capital of the Free State. A pretty, medium-sized city, it lives up to its name, which means 'spring of flowers'. There are thousands of rose bushes lining the streets, which create a wonderful spectacle most of the year, but especially in spring. Also nearby is the orchid house - another tribute to that lovely name.

Did you know that Bloemfontein was originally inhabited by Stone-Age people and later by Basotho, it was named 'Mangaung' which means 'Place of Leopards'.

Bloemfontein was the capital of the independent Boer republic of the Orange Free State until the Union of South Africa was declared in 1910, when it was made the judicial capital of South Africa. It is still the site of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In the middle of the city is a small nature reserve called Naval Hill, where visitors and residents alike can go for walks and see small game. There are a number of museums dedicated to subjects ranging from natural history to warfare.

Probably the most poignant memorial is the Women's Monument, erected to commemorate the tens of thousands of women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.

Bloemfontein also offers excellent recreational, shopping and entertainment facilities. There are a number of picturesque and vibrant shopping centres available

Visitors of Bloemfontein must not forget to visit the Bloemfontein Botanical Gardens, it is the only botanical gardens in the Free State, featuring 6 hectares of pleasant walks and trails, a bird hide, nursery and tea garden.

Bloemfontein is very conveniently situated as a stopover point if you're driving between Cape Town and Johannesburg and it is the closest city to the Kingdom of Lesotho.