Bloemfontein Specials

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Bloemfontein Specials

Bloemfontein is one of South Africa’s largest cities, and is a central hub of the country’s government. The city serves as the judicial capital of South Africa, one of the three national capitals (the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital). It is also the capital city of the Free State province.

Bloemfontein’s name literally translates to ‘flower of fountains’, and is colloquially known as the ‘city of roses’ due to the abundance of the flowers found in the city, while its Sesotho name, Mangaung, means ‘place of cheetahs’. Bloemfontein has also formed part of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality since 2011.

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Despite being a predominantly Afrikaner settlement over most of its history, Bloemfontein was initially founded by British army major Henry Douglas Warden in 1846, to serve as a fort for the region. The first European to inhabit the Bloemfontein area was Johannes Nicolaas Brits, a Dutch farmer who later sold the farm to Major Warden. The newly formed town later went on to become the capital of the Orange Free State Republic, which brought much expansion and development. Some of the administrative buildings constructed during this time are still in use today. By 1890, the city was connected to Cape Town by a railway line.

Perhaps the most significant event that took place in Bloemfontein during its early history was the Bloemfontein Conference, a last-ditch effort to prevent the outbreak of another conflict between Britain and the newly formed South African Republic. Unfortunately, the conference was ultimately unsuccessful, and its failure led to the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899. Bloemfontein’s central location on the railway network would make it an important strategic location during these conflicts.

In 1900, Bloemfontein was captured by the British following the Battle of Paardeberg. A concentration camp was built nearby to house the captured women, children, and old men, many of whom died as a result of the very poor conditions. Around this time, a battery of naval guns was also installed on what came to be known as Naval Hill in order to defend the city against attack.




Bloemfontein is centrally situated within South Africa as whole, as well as within the Free State province. The city is in a region that marks the border between the southern edge of the Highveld and the semi-arid Karoo desert, and its geography is generally flat with the occasional hill dotting the landscape.




Bloemfontein’s most notable landmarks include the old Raadsaal, or city hall, which dates back to the earliest days of the town, the National Women’s Monument, which pays tribute to the victims of the concentration camps, and Naval Hill itself, which offers the best panoramic view of the city.


Interesting Statistics


  • Bloemfontein is home to around 256,185, at a population density of 1100 per square kilometer.
  • The majority of the population is Black African, with the most commonly spoken language being Afrikaans.
  • The average elevation of the city is 1395m above sea level.

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