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  About the Free State - Motheo District



Living in the centre of the country, access may be gained by an extensive network of roads, railway lines and an international airport in Bloemfontein linked to all major airports in South Africa.

Hotel, resort, guest house, b&b, self catering accommodation is plentiful and ranges from luxurious through to the simplest and most basic camp sites. The Free State is divided into five districts, each with it’s own special characteristics. Motheo, meaning “Foundation” lies at the heart and Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State, is the main city. Also known as “City of Roses”, Bloemfontein has many attractions. The Franklin Game Reserve, with antelope, zebra and giraffe is situated on Naval Hill, from where a panoramic view of the city may be had. Loch Logan Waterfront and Zoo Gardens, Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, museums, a theatre and many historical sites cater for a choice in interests and entertainment. The two main South African Political Parties, the ANC and the then National Party where formed/launched in Mangaung. Experience the pulse of the people on a trip to Botshabello and Mangaung Township through the beat of African Jazz. Taste traditional home brewed beer and see, in the arts and crafts, the work of skilful hands. For the seekers of adventure or just to experience nature in the wild, the Caledon and Rustfontein Dam Nature Reserves, Phillip Sanders Resort and Maria Moroka National Park are among many offering water sports, canoeing, angling, game and bird viewing, hiking and 4x4 trails. Bushman rock art, dinosaur remains and archaeological sites are scattered throughout the region. One will be afforded the opportunity to visit the Cheetahs house and Bloemfontein Celtic home both Rugby and Soccer teams the Free State Province prides itself with.


As South Africa’s judicial capital, Bloemfontein has become known through the years as “The Central City”, ”The Hospitable City”, The Congress City”, “The Total City”, and “The City of Roses”. Situated in the heart of South Africa, Bloemfontein offers its residents a quality of life with which few other cities are able to compete with. Wit its picturesque rural tranquility and vibrant, dynamic central business district, this modern city prides itself on being luxuriously steeped in rich traditions – and yet also on embracing other cultures, new ideas and a rapidly changing technology.
All these designations indicate that it is a city in which not only residents but also visitors and tourists can feel truly at home and welcome. Bloemfontein offers adequate recreational and entertainment facilities which include public parks, swimming pools, sport fields, a game reserve and a zoo.
Bloemfontein has created a true blend in which somehow the pas, the present and the future have been encapsulated. What keeps the pas so alive is the unobtrusive and almost natural inclusion of an impressive architectural an historical heritage into the very life of a modern developing city. Graceful charm is to be seen all along the historical, tree-lined President Brand Street, declared a national monument. Stately museum buildings stand proudly visible at the ends of bustling main streets in the business district, while small monuments and memorials, almost unnoticeable, are preserved in built-up suburbs.
A variety of attractions await the visitor to this friendly city – from the unique blend of gracious old world charm to ultra modern high tech sophistication.

Culture & Heritage:
*Anglo Boer War Museum – the museum does not only give the visitor insight into the Anglo-Boer War through its unique art collection, dioramas and exhibits, but also brings the visitor closer to understanding the background against which the war took place.
*Cleaning, Healing and Reparation Memorial – situated on the terrain of the City Hall, serves as a symbol of sacrifices made by various individuals and groups in the Free State in the fight for freedom in various conflicts during the past centuries.
*Dutch Reformed Church – established 1880 – last 3 presidents of Free State Republic took oath of office here. Only twin-spired Dutch Reformed Church in S.A
*First Raadsaal & Wagon Museum
*National Afrikaans Literature Museum – originally erected as a government office building in 1875. The museum accommodates well over a million artifacts related to Afrikaans literature.
*National Museum – Curio & Coffee Shop is based in the National Museum. Museum highlights: Historical streets scene, History of Mangaung/Bloemfontein, Live displays, Karoo Fossils, Reconstruction of the Florisbad Human Skull.
*Freshford House Museum
*National Women’s Memorial – Monument road. A 36,5 m sandstone shrine in memory of woman and children who perished during the Anglo-Boer War. Emily Hobhouse was also buried here.
*Oliewenhuis Art Museum – Harry Smith Street
*Queens Fort Military Museum – established in 1848 as stronghold against native raids – depicts all conflicts in the Free State.
*Rugby museum – Museum of Choet Visser one of the largest private rugby collections in the world.
*SA Armour Museum – the history and use of armour vehicles in warfare is the focus of this facility on the premises of the Tmepe military base.
*School of Armour – fine displays of tanks and weaponry, one of the original military hospitals.
*The Fire Station Museum – displays 15 vintage fire engines dating back from 1926 -1984 as well as vintage mayoral cars, motor bikes, steam engines, ox wagons, photos and uniforms.
*The Fourth Raadsaal – corner of Pres. Brand and Charles Street. Last home of the Model Free State Republican Parliament. The original benches used by the Volksraad still remain.
*The Old Presidency – C/o Pres brand and Georges Street House of the Presidents of the former Republic of the Orange Free State a Lovely Victorian House Museum dating back from that era.
*The President’s Acre and President Brand Cemetery – this cemetery contains the graves of some of the former presidents of South Africa and many historical figures of the area.
*Unit Museum – special service Battalion contains articles dating back to the year 1933.
*Anglican Cathedral – the Cathedral was dedicated in 1866 and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city.
*Hertzog Square – opposite the City Hall dedicated to General JBM Hertzog comprises a statue with fountains. Sculptor Danie de Jager.
*Twin-spire Church – arguably one of Bloemfontein’s most notable buildings due to its distinctive twin spires, was built in 1878.

Botshabelo, “A Place of Refugee” was established as an artificially engineered town for displaced rural people. The town is found 45km from Bloemfontein on the N8 road to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Botshabello came into existence after non-Tswana speking inhabitants were forcefully removed by the then Bophuthatswana Government at Kromdraai in Thaba Nchu. They fled to this area, originally known as the Onverwacht farm.

Dewetsdorp was proclaimed in 1880 on the farm Kareefontein and was named after Anglo-Boer War General Christiaan Rudolph de Wet. The district is prime sheep and cattle ranching country and the main crops are wheat and maize.

Culture & Heritage:

*British Monument – on top of a hill commemorating the British soldiers who died in the Anglo-Boer War.
*Centenary festival Monument – in front of the City Hall commemorating the 1938 Great Trek Centenary Festival.
*De Wet Grave – Cornelia Margaretha de Wet, the wife of General CR de Wet
*Twins Memorial – memory of twins who died here during the Anglo-Boer War.

Excelsior was founded in 1910 by a group of farmers tired of the long journeys between Winburg and Ladybrand. The first sandstone reservoir was erected here in 1924.

Culture & Heritage:

*Anglo-Boer War Monument – a strikingly designed remembrance of the 1938 Ossewa Trek.
*Dutch Reformed Church – build of sandstone and completed on the 10th of October 1925. The church was designed by the famous architect Gerhard Moerdyk.

Hobhouse was founded in 1912 and is situated on Highlands Scenic Route between Wepener and Ladybrand. The town was named after the British suffragist, Emily Hobhouse, who worked on behalf of the Boer Women and children in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.

Culture & Heritage:
*Doll Museum – a collection of over 600 dolls, some dating back to the 19th century, as well as the famous Graaf-Reinet doll.
*Miniature Church – built in 1939 in the grounds of the church in the Eastern Free State region.
*San Rock Art – in the caves along the Caledon River.
*Sarel Cilliers Monument – build in honor of the Voortrekkers and the Groot Trek in 1838.

This town is nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, providing a gateway to the finest examples of sandstone architecture in the highlands of the Eastern Free State. The town was founded in 1867 and named after the wife of the Cape parliament’s speaker, Sir Christoffel Brand, and mother of President Johannes Brand of the Free State. Ladybrand is known as the Gateway to Lesotho, 15km Caledon Bridge – main border post between South Africa and Lesotho.

Culture & Heritage:
*Catherine Brand Museum – Archaeological displays.
*Heritage Museum – local history, bread baked in outside oven, vintage farm implements and a history of the Free State printing industry.
*Sandstone Buildings – eight buildings in Ladybrand have been granted National Monument status.
*Cave Church – in 1869 , the Anglican Society of the St Augustine used the sandstone shelter for services before a suitable venue became available.
*Rose Cottage Cave – where ash from a fire, dating back 50 000 years, has been found.
*Stables – a deep rock fissure used by the Boers to stable their horses during the Basotho War.

Modderpoort is situated between Clocolan and Ladybrand. During 1869, Canon Henry Becket and brothers from the society of St Augustine’s established a mission at Modderpoort.

Established in 1873 the Tswana people of the Free State have made Thaba Nchu their home for more than 180 years. The town is 70km east of Bloemfontein, named after Thaba Nchu Mountain (2138m), once the stronghold of the Baralong tribe during the 19th century.

Cultural & Heritage:

*Historical Buildings and Churches – designed by the priest-cum-artist, Father Claerhout.

Situated off the N8, this small settlement was first established as a mission station in1853.

The town, established in 1904, ownes its existence to a butter factory and the Eaton Hall train station. The name Tweespruit means two creeks and is en route between Ladybrand and the N8. Tweespruit is also the home of renowned South African artist, Father Frans Claerhout.

Culture & Heritage:
* Agricultural School – the oldest in the Free State and was established in 1918. The school buildings were designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
*Historical Sandstone Buildings – in the vicinity (design by Sir Herbert Baker, architect of the Union Buildings). Also residence of Father Claerhout an internationally painter and sculptural artist.

Situated between Wepener and Zastron. Named after founder HM van Staden – a farmer whose land, Mook was laid out as a town in 1926. Van Staden also build the Egmont Dam in the area.

Culture & Heritage:
* Grave of CWA Durand - Anglo-Boer War commander and one of the first to climb Thaba Bosiu, stronghold of Moshweshwe, during the 1865 Basotho War.

Lying close to the border of Lesotho on the banks of Jammerbergspruit. Named after Commandant Louw Wepener, killed during the second Basotho War in 1865. Numerous graves, mainly without identification, are reminders of stormy events from the past.

Culture & Heritage

*Anglican Church – built in 1870
*Reformed Church – built in 1882
*Historical Town Hall – built in 1927
*Jammerbergdrif Bridge – across the Caledon River near Jammerbergdrif – restored and declared a national monument.
*Memorial Gate – at the northern side of the Town Hall bearing names of soldiers who died during the Second World War

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