Mangaung/Bloemfontein is the provincial capital of the Free State Province as well as the judicial capital of South Africa. The area is home to beautiful open spaces, diverse cultures, and friendly residents. Residents are a blend of rural hometown friendliness to the fast-paced city life making the people you meet very interesting as well as polite, courteous, and helpful.
Throughout Mangaung/Bloemfontein, visitors can embrace the diverse culture, history seen in the many museums, and the monuments and architectural design. Visitors from around the world enjoy visiting the area for all kinds of reasons including football to the outdoor adventures.
The meaning of the city’s name Mangaung in Sesotho is place of cheetahs, whereas the meaning of Bloemfontein is the city of roses due to the roses that grow in the area as well as the annual rose festival that is held here. As you can see from the name, alone the city is quite diverse in all things from culture to history to scenic beauty.
History of Mangaung / Bloemfontein
The first settlers known in the area were Chief Yoruka and the Barolong tribe, which were home in the Thab Nchu in the 1830’s. By the later part of the 1800’s, Chief Moshoeshoe and the Basotho tribe moved into the area. All of this area soon became a haven for tribes that were seeking shelter from King of the Zulu’s, Shaka Zulu.
In 1846, Bloemfontein was officially founded as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost in the Transoranje region. AT this time, there were many people calling the area home including Cape Colony Trek Boers, Griqua, and Basotho.
The area has seen its side of war just like much of South Africa. After the Battle of Paardeberg, British forces took control of the city on March 13, 1900 at which time a concentration camp was built for the Boer women and children. Just outside of town, you can visit the National Women’s Memorial that was built to honor the women, children, and old men that died in these camps throughout South Africa.
At the end of 2000, the Mangaung Local Municipality was formed merging the transitional local councils of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu with two rural councils.
Free State Stadium – host of the 2010 World Cup
Mangaung/Gloemfontein is home to many football fanatics and with that said many believe that the Free State Stadium may be the center of attention during the
FIFA 2010 World Cup even though other stadiums in South Africa will also be hosting various games. The stadium went through some renovations prior to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup could accommodate 45,000 spectators. For the 2010 FIFA World Cup more upgrades have been completed including a second tier was constructed to the main grandstand increasing the capacity to 48,000. Other improvements include new turnstiles, upgraded floodlights, upgraded sound system, and new electronic scoreboards.
Getting to and from Free State Stadium as well as to other attractions in the area is not a problem. Bloemfontein is home to taxis, minibuses, and car rental or car hire facilities. In most cases, visitors normally visit a car hire agency so they can travel to and from the stadium as well as to other attractions at their own pace. However, there are taxis available for those that do not wish to drive.
Lodging Accommodations nearby Free State Stadium
You can enjoy a wide array of lodging facilities home in Mangaung/Bloemfontein whether you wish to be in walking distance of the stadium or would rather be on the outskirts of town to enjoy a taxi ride to the events so you can see other sights of the city on your way.
If you are searching for accommodations nearby the Free State Stadium you will find the most popular are Southern Sun only 1km away, Aandmuzik Guest House 2km away as well as President Hotel & Conference Venue and Protea Hotel Bloemfontein 2km away from the stadium.
Southern Sun Bloemfontein usually caters to upper level government officials as well as corporate visitors as well as being the host of the Springbok Rugby Team. Hotel facilities include handicap facilities, dry cleaning, valet, non-smoking rooms, 24-hour front desk, conference center, safe deposit boxes, hair salon, and boutiques. In room services include internet, telephone, cable TV, personal safe, and coffee maker.
The Aandmuzik Guest House is a pleasant and cozy home with the owners nearby in the cottage while guests enjoy the main house. Facilities include non-smoking rooms available as well as a bar, coffee shop, and in house dining.
President Hotel & Conference Venue offers all the amenities you would expect from a large hotel including handicap facilities, facilities for children, elevator, dry cleaning, non-smoking, 24-hour desk, conference center, and safe deposit boxes. In room facilities include internet, television, and personal safe.
Protea Hotel Bloemfontein is set in the business district but is surrounded by beauty all around as well as a swimming pool and terrace for you to enjoy a few minutes of relaxation from your busy day. Hotel facilities include handicap facilities, dry cleaning, non-smoking rooms and in your room you will find telephone, television and a personal safe.
Restaurants in the area
Mangaung/Bloemfontein is home to a large variety of restaurants that are sure to please the palate and taste buds of every family member. According to the type of cuisine you desire you will find something you love. For light meals you can try Barba’s Café that also serves Greek cuisine and Meel serves light meals as well as South African. If you happen to be looking for Italian you can stop by Panarotti’s or Primi Piata both serving pizza and pasta dishes. Seafood can be found at Khalahari Fish, Margarita’s, Mexican, Ocean Basket, and Sushi at Oolong Lounge as well as Cape Town Fish market.
Things to do in Mangaung / Bloemfontein
Even if you are here to see the 2010 World Cup you should take some time to see some of the wonderful sights around the city. A few of the most popular things to do in the area include:
The National Museum is home to one of the largest and most extensive collections of archaeological artifacts in all of South Africa. One major thrill is a realistic street of the early 1900’s being a favorite exhibit.
Queen’s Military Museum or the Old Fort as it was once called was constructed in 1848 to house the artillery unit of the Free State. Today it is home to all the history of the major military conflicts that occurred in the Free State dating back to 1820.
National Women’s Memorial and the Anglo-Boer War Museum as mentioned above is a must see when it comes to embracing the history of the area. The monument was created by Anton van Wouw. The museum is home to related artifacts as well as information on the war.
The Dam of Tears formed part of the Bloemfontein concentration camp, which was the home, as well as the final resting place of many women, children, and old men during the Boer wars.