Bloemfontein City Guide

2010-05-07 13:56
At the heart of the Free State Province lies the artistic city of Bloemfontein which is home to some of the country's most fanatical football supporters. The city's open spaces reflect the openness of its people - friendly, warm and quietly dignified. The city's citizens are a unique blend of rural tranquility and vibrant city life.

Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa and the provincial capital of the Free State Province. The Appeal Court, which is the highest court in South Africa, is also found in the city. Mangaung, the SeSotho name for the city, literally means "Place of the Cheetahs". On the other hand, Bloemfontein literally means 'fountain of flowers' in Dutch.

The Free State is bordered by four of South Africa's nine provinces and the country of Lesotho. The city has a wealth of culture and history, reflected by its rich architectural heritage, numerous museums and monuments.

Chief Yoruka and the Barolong tribe settled in the area around Thaba Nchu in the early 1830s. In the late 1800s the Free State became home to Chief Moshoeshoe and the Basotho tribe. The area became a safe haven for tribes fleeing King of the Zulus, Shaka Zulu.

The Mangaung Local Municipality was formed at the end of 2000 by amalgamating the transitional local councils of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu with two rural councils. It is the sixth largest city in South Africa. Although amalgamated under one city authority in 2000, Bloemfontein was initially founded by Dutch and English settlers in mid-1800s. Bloemfontein is rumoured to have been named after an abundance of roses which grew around a fountain on a farm owned by a Dutch settler (Voortrekker), Johannes Nicolaas Brit.

In South Africa, Bloemfontein is known for having some of the country's most decorated and colourful football supporters, famous for their sheer enthusiasm and vociferous singing during games. Local outfit, Bloemfontein Celtic, are the most popular football side from the city with their famous clan of supporters, known as Siwelele.

The city’ most famous current soccer son is Shu-Aib Walters, who has earned a call-up as the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper.

Free State Stadium
Home to some of the country's most fanatical group of supporters, the Free State Stadium is likely to be the centre of attention during the FIFA World Cup. The stadium was given a plush new look for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup .

For full details on the Free State Stadium, click [here]

Top things to do in Bloemfontein
* Shop in one of the many malls
* Eat lunch at Loch Logan Waterfront
* Take a drive out into the countryside for beautiful views and fresh air
* Take in a show at the Sand du Plessis theatre
* Visit the local township for shopping and socializing with locals
* Visit one of the many museums and historical sights, many of which deal with the Anglo Boer War

Getting around
Public transport is extensively available, and will feature extended operating hours to make traveling around the city simple. Buses, taxis and trains all offer inexpensive travel options to get to and around the city.

Useful links for more information:

Art and culture at Oliewenhuis Art Gallery. (Getty)

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