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Sandwiched between the national highway and the extensive grounds of the Free State University, Universitas Ridge is a neat suburb favoured by academics and students. It’s a mix of well-maintained mid- to up-market freestanding homes, townhouses and student residences.
Several schools, day care centres, parks and churches are located within the boundaries of Universitas Ridge, as is the Universitas Hospital, a private healthcare facility.
Bloemfontein is South Africa’s judiciary capital where the Supreme Court of Appeal is located and where 28 of the country’s top legal minds hold sway. Expect to hold an intellectual conversation with those you meet during your stay in Universitas Ridge.
Top 6 reasons to visit Universitas Ridge
1. Visit the Florisbad Quaterny Research Station, established around an ancient spring mound and where a 260000 year old skull was discovered. Various human and other mammal skeletal fossil collections are housed at the station’s education centre.
2. The city hosts two important festivals annually; the Vrystaat (Volksblad) Arts Festival and the Macufe Mangaung African Culture Arts Festival, both celebrating art in different forms. The events are well attended by visitors throughout Africa.
3. Take a walk to the Orchid House in Hamilton Park. The domed structure contains many species of exotic orchid and entrance is free.
4. The 1927 dated Boyden Observatory is managed by the university and available to the public. Open evenings take place throughout the year and the facility has a wide range of telescopes to explore. Entrance is by prior arrangement.
5. Visit the 70ha Free State National Botanical Garden to wander through the formal gardens and around lily ponds. Numerous species of small mammals, reptiles and birds are to be found in the gardens.
6. Bloemfontein is not only about history and education, the city has a booming café culture where university students hang out. Moerby Gallery (the word moerby is a colloquialism for ‘throw together’) hosts art exhibitions and events and also acts as a springboard for emerging musos that visitors can appreciate along with good food.
Universitas Ridge is 15km from the Bram Fischer (Bloemfontein) International Airport. There are a few car rental companies located both at the airport and in Bloemfontein city centre, 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-Cape Town route stop in Bloemfontein.
Did you know?
Afrikaans and Sesotho are the languages mostly spoken in Bloemfontein, however, English is a second language and there should be no communication barriers.
Charismatic Judge President Dennis Davis is the serving head of the Competition Appeals Court but is also a well-known TV personality, having hosted the current affairs programme Future Imperfect for many years. The programme won a number of awards.
For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.