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The central business district (CBD) of Bloemfontein contains a wealth of history along with established learning centres that draw academics and scholars to this attractive city located in the Free State Province of South Africa.
Bloemfontein is South Africa’s judicial capital where the Supreme Court of Appeal is based, the country’s 2nd highest court behind the Constitutional Court. A total of 25 appointed judges preside over this court.
The fine sandstone buildings in Bloemfontein CBD were first constructed from 1849 and many remain, a tribute to the stonemasons and builders who undertook the work. The area has a number of statues and monuments too, the most significant being the National Women’s Memorial commemorating the 25000 women and children that died in the South African War concentration camps.
Although historic, Bloemfontein CBD is a student town filled with chic bistros, beautiful parks and a buzzing nightlife.
Top 6 reasons to visit Bloemfontein CBD
1. Walk the city to gain an understanding of the history, appreciate the old buildings from various eras, enjoy a coffee at a sidewalk café and look out for the 2 pear trees said to have been planted by the first settler almost 200 years ago.
2. Visit the National Museum housed in the historic old Presidency building. The museum contains a number of realistic dioramas, fascinating exhibits in the palaeontology hall and 10 tribal displays in the anthropology section.
3. Loch Logan Waterfront has 80000m² of shopping space, a banking hall, movies, restaurants and extensive parking. The centre overlooks a dam.
4. One of only two cities worldwide with a nature park within city boundaries, the 250ha Franklin Game Reserve has several buck species, giraffe and wildebeest roaming the park. Naval Hill in the reserve has a stone structure in the form of a horse, and painted white, believed to have been assembled by British soldiers during the South African War.
5. Take a 1 hour tour of the Cheetah Experience big cat centre to learn of the plight of the endangered cheetah. This conservation centre has various other cat species on show including the lion, caracal and leopard.
6. The Windmill Casino is just off the main highway and offers gambling facilities, entertainment for the kids, restaurants and ten-pin bowling.
The Bram Fischer (Bloemfontein) International Airport is 17km from Bloemfontein CBD. There are several car rental companies both at the airport and in the CBD, otherwise order your rental online. Metered taxi operators are available throughout the city and Uber intends to begin operating here in the near future. Main bus liners servicing the Johannesburg-Durban route stop off in Bloemfontein.
Did you know?
The man who first settled here, Johan Brits, built a clay hut alongside a perennial spring. He planted a fruit orchard while his wife prepared flower beds close to the spring. Travellers began referring to the settlement as Bloemfontein, or Spring of Flowers, the name having stuck. Nguni tribes called the place Manguang, the place of the cheetah.
The locals call the controversial Manguang municipal building the Glass Palace, an ultra-modern glass structure contrasting greatly with Bloemfontein’s surrounding staid buildings.