Naval Hill or Franklin game reserve is worth a drive through. Set on a hill as it is, it not only provides a welcome respite from all things city, but also gives a bird’s eye view over the city. And the extremely modern Orchid House, which lies at the western foot of Naval Hill in Hamilton Park, lays claim to the world’s largest collection of orchids as well as Franklin game reserve is the only of its kind in the world to be inside the metropolitan area.
Bloemfontein National Museum situated in the heart of the town. It depicts the history of town of last 2 centuries as well, astronomic achievements and wildlife found in the area since the days of yore till this day. I visited here a lot during the FIFA 2010 mostly with my CS guests.
Originally housing the government of the Republic of the Orange Free State in the 1800s, the National Afrikaans Literature Museum and Research Centre building was initially a single storey building with a clock tower, but a second storey was added after a devastating fire in 1908. The clock in the original clock tower still chimes on the hour, every hour, to this day. The huge trees surrounding the building were planted by former presidents of the Republic of the Orange Free State and other prominent statesmen of the time. The majestic statue at the entrance to the building is of President Brand who is known to many Afrikaners as 'die vader van die volk' or 'the father of the nation'. The statue faces Maitland Street, the main street of the Bloemfontein CBD. I consider myself very unlucky once again as I used to walk through every morning for almost 3 months, from Lebohang building to town initially after my migration to South Africa while I was still looking for job, but in those every day walk though I used to think about building and read about it but never thought of stepping inside... I am sorry for myself that I missed out on this one of my beautiful Bloemfontein...
One of the most significant events in the history of South Africa was the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. Anglo-Boer war museum and Women Memorial built in Bloemfontein to remember the martyrs and glimpse of past, the life in the concentration camps and prisons can be seen. I had been here few times.
Glass Palace or Bram Fischer Building is a high-rise building in Bloemfontein, situated at Nelson Mandela Drive. Most of the government offices are based in this building. As I said before Bloemfontein is beautiful blend of past and present. This new Glass building is situated right next to old City Hall.
The First Raadsaal (1849), is Bloemfontein's oldest building. This thatched cottage was originally a school, then the meeting-place of the Volksraad and later a church. It is now a museum on the history of Bloemfontein. On one Monday when I was off I took my friend and thought of exploring both First Raadsaal and Freshford house but we could not reach Freshford in time.
One of Bloemfontein's treasures is the 70 ha botanical garden. It has got couple of short easy hikes. Lots of plant species, birds and picnic/brai areas.
The gardens have been divided into various sections. The Rhus / Karee Area has more than 20 species, mostly indigenous to the Free State. The medicinal garden has displays of dried medicinal plants and over 30 live medicinal plants. The Kopjes has pleasant trails across 3 kopjes (rocky hills) dotted with many succulents and bulbous plants.
The Visitors' Centre has a gift shop and also sells plants to the public.
A newly-built restaurant serves breakfast and light meals.
The Environmental Education Centre provides workshop to learners.
During my time in Bloemfontein I have been here atleast 10 times if I am not mistaken.
Located in Kellner Street is this Freshford Museum, which however I passed by thousand times but unfortunately could not make in. Freshford House Museum is one of the few houses of the upper middle class of the Edwardian Period that still exists in Bloemfontein.
Freshford House was completed in 1897, i.e. during a transition between the Late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The house, with its asymmetrical facade, unplastered red brick walls, bay windows, veranda with carved wood and corrugated iron roof with cast-iron finishes, is a typical example of a residence during this period in Bloemfontein.
Boyden Observatory is an astronomical research observatory and science education centre located 20 km north-east of the city of Bloemfontein. Unfortunately I could never go here myself, however my first experience to gaze stars came when I visited Gamka Mountains Nature reserve.
Tourist information center is located in Willows area of Bloemfontein. The building is also hub for various bus liners so it is more popular as Bloemfontein Bus Terminal. Anyhow, even if you arrive after hours, there are still loads of information brochures about places to stay and interest in the racks outside their office.
The train station is in the city centre, on the corner of Maitland and Harvey streets. During my last few months in Bloemfontein I discovered how cheap and pleasure it was to explore the Southern Africa by train. My journey to Zambia, Zim, Botswana and Namibia began here.
The Orchid House is circular in design and inside is a circular boardwalk, so that you can have a close up view of hundreds of these exotic and ancient plants (including the Vanilla Orchid where all our vanilla essence comes from) in a tropical oasis of lush greenery. I was once here but owing to the timings, could not go in.
The Bloemfontein City Hall Is a large stately sandstone building which was designed by the well known, Sir Gordon Leith in 1935, I had once opportunity to go inside the building for a dancing competition.
At the corner of Pres Brand and Elizabeth Street is this historical building of Appeal Court of South Africa. The building is said to have been built in a free Renaissance style. The old part was built with sandstone from Ladybrand and the newer eastern wing with sandstone from Ficksburg. The new part of the building is being similarly clad.
The Anglican Cathedral of St.Andrew and St.Michael in Bloemfontein has a long and interesting history. The very first Anglican Church in Bloemfontein, which ultimately became the Anglican Cathedral of St.Andrew and St.Michael in Bloemfontein was based on drawings of Sophia Gray, wife of Bishop Robert Gray.