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.
In the middle of the city is a small nature reserve called Naval Hill, where you can go for walks and see small game. Also nearby is the orchid house – another tribute to that lovely name.
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.
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 South African war (Anglo-Boer War).
Bloemfontein is very conveniently situated as a stopover point if you’re driving between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and it is the closest major city to the Kingdom of Lesotho.