Name: Mangaung / Bloemfontein
Province: Free State
Maps: Google Map
Population: 850 000
Geography: The city is located in central South Africa on the Free State Plateau. The landscape is accentuated by grassland plains and low hills.
Climate: : Dry winters, from May to August with temperatures around 17° C in the day and reaching -2° C at night. Summer ranges from October to February and city is much warmer, around 30° C during the day and cloud bursts in the afternoon.
Key Economic Sectors: Trade, Finance, Transport
Professional Football Clubs: Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars (Premier League) Carara Kicks (1st Division)
Stadium: Free State Stadium
Place to see
Anglo-Boer War Museum – The National Women’s Memorial is in front of the Anglo-Boer War Museum, which has some interesting displays, including photos from concentrations camps set up not only in South Africa, but also in Bermuda, India and Portugal.
Franklin Game Reserve – There are good views from the top of Naval Hill, where you’ll also find the Franklin Game Reserve. Walking is permitted, so get out of the car and hit the trail for a good old-fashioned bush romp.
Manguang Township – You can hang out in the bars or eat a simple meal at a local dive with people you’re unlikely to meet on a trip to the Waterfront area or the Mystic Boer pub in the vibrant Manguang township. Tours are informal and usually run for as long as you want.
National Museum – A great re-creation of a 19th-century street, complete with sound effects, is the most interesting display at the National Museum. There is also a shop and a café here.
National Women’s Memorial – Commemorating the 26,000 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, the National Women’s Memorial is the creation of well-known South African sculptor Anton von Wouw. The sandstone obelisk depicts a bearded Afrikaner, setting off on his pony to fight the British, bidding a last farewell to his wife and baby, who are to perish in one of the camps. It’s a powerful image and one still buried in the psyche of many Afrikaners.
Naval Hill – It was the site of the British naval-gun emplacements during the Anglo-Boer War. On the eastern side of the hill is a large white horse, a landmark for British cavalry during the war. There are good views from the top of the hill, where you’ll also find the Franklin Game Reserve.
Oliewenhuis Art Museum – One of South Africa’s most striking art galleries, the Oliewenhuis Art Museum is housed in an exquisite 1935 mansion. The gallery’s name comes from the wild olive trees growing in the beautiful gardens that surround it. It holds a collection of works by South African artists, including Thomas Baines. There’s also a strong contemporary collection.
Orchid House – Not far from Naval Hill, is a glasshouse with a beautiful collection of flowers. The park outside is a great place to take the kids for a picnic.
Waterfront – Bloem’s Waterfront is a lot more pleasant than the huge shopping malls that are popping up on the outskirts of so many South African cities. It’s outside, set on a small body of water, and the atmosphere is relaxed – it’s a great place for kids.