Mangaung/Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein Travel Blog

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Located in the central part of South Africa, Bloemfontein the capital city of the Free State Province, has the laid-back, friendly vibe of a country town. Still, it's a party place, thanks to a healthy student population and numerous sports clubs and bars. It is full of culture and history, reflected by its rich architectural heritage, numerous museums and monuments. Bloemfontein is an active town, and sports are high on the priority list of the majority of residents. Hanging with the locals is a must, because people here still believe in old-fashioned hospitality and are a unique blend of rural tranquility and vibrant city life.

This city has seen it all. It was part of an independent Boer Republic, was colonized by the Brits and was considered the heartland of the old South Africa. Nevertheless, it has become remarkably compliant with the realities of the new South Africa. Bloemfontein serves as the judicial capital of the country and major lawsuits are resolved in the august wood-paneled halls of its historical buildings. Instead of overdosing on a dozen monuments and historic buildings that hark back to the time of the Anglo-Boer War, you can visit the top sites. These would include the impressive twin-spire Dutch reformed church; the Oliewenhuis Art Museum - a stunning example of typical Dutch gable architecture; and finally, the street that is the historic heart of the city. In the early morning take a stroll along President Brand Street and admire its majestic sandstone buildings and groomed gardens that date back to the Colonial era; they look magnificent. The indigenous population of the area, the Basotho or South Sotho people, has a proud and tenacious history. To them, Bloemfontein is Manguang (place of leopards). They are part of the greater Sotho people of South Africa who number an estimated seven million in all. The Basotho live in the Free State and neighboring Lesotho, once a British protectorate before independence in 1966.The Qwaqwa National Park houses a Basotho Cultural Village.

Free State Stadium

Mangaung/Bloemfontein will be hosting teams at the Free State Stadium, which currently seats approximately 38,000 people. The stadium derives its name from the province in which it is located. The stadium played host to group and quarter-final matches at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and the IRB Rugby World Cup in 1995. It is also the alternate home ground of Premier Soccer League team, Bloemfontein Celtics.

The stadium will be undergoing a costly upgrade and once completed, will have a gross seating capacity of 48,000. The stadium will be used as a venue for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. A second tier is being added to the western pavilion, which will increase the stadium's gross capacity from approximately 38,000 to 45,000.
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Bloemfontein
photo by: spocklogic