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Bloemfontein is one of the seventh largest cities in the country, home to 520 000 residents. It is the capital of the Free State and the judicial capital of South Africa. The city also hosts the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa. Some say it feels like a homely country village, and is considered to be one of South Africa’s most peaceful and hospitable cities. Bloemfontein, roughly translated, means "fountain of flowers," and is sometimes known as the “City of Roses,” for its copious blooms throughout the metropolitan and of course, the annual festival dedicated to roses. Bloemfontein belongs to the Mangaung local municipality, which translated from Sesotho means "a place where cheetahs dwell".
The atmosphere in the city is that of appreciating family values, respect for fellow citizens and neighbours, and a clean, safe environment for everyone. The cost of living in this area is one of the most competitive in South Africa, making the lifestyle there very favourable. The average temperature in summer is 26 degrees and in winter around 16 degrees, snow occasionally falls on the mountain ranges around the Eastern Free State. Along with buses, locals make use of public transport via rail, which gives access to Johannesburg and Cape Town and there are daily trains to Port Elizabeth and East London. Bloemfontein has two airports; the Bram Fischer International Airport, that offers domestic flights all over South Africa, and the New Tempe Aerodrome, which is used as a training facility for aviators and flight schools.
Bloemfontein has 51 Primary Schools, and 37 Secondary schools to choose from. The University of the Free State and the Central University of Technology are also found in the area, as well as a Further Education and Training College called Motheo FET College. Sub-Saharan Africa's first digital planetarium, the Naval Hill Planetarium and Boyden Observatory, an astronomical research observatory, which was established by Harvard University, are found in Bloemfontein. The city generates very little light pollution, which creates an optimal environment to look at the stars and planets above us.
There are many museums that highlight the history of the area, including the National Museum, which dates back to the 1870s. Their displays comprise of rarities from around the world, and a wide variety of natural and human science artefacts, cultural history and art. The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein is the only museum solely dedicated to the Anglo-Boer War, which was active from 1899 to 1902. This museum has a collection of art, exhibits and dioramas depicting the background against which the war took place. The National Women’s Monument is found at the same location, this National Heritage site commemorates the suffering of around 27 000 women and children who died in the British concentration camps during the 2nd World War. Close by is the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, which is held within an incredible mansion, built in 1935, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Their contemporary photographic exhibition has been said to give good insight into the South Africa of today.
Locals and tourists can visit the Franklin Game Reserve, which is situated on top of Naval Hill, a plateau hill in the centre of Bloemfontein. The area is home to zebras, antelope and giraffe. Naval Hill is a nature reserve, named for the two British naval guns found on top of the hill, and is the highest point in the city, offering gorgeous panoramic views of Bloemfontein, trails for walkers and picnic areas. The Sand du Plessis Theatre presents music, ballet, plays and opera performances throughout the year.
For some retail therapy, the enormous, 80 000 square metre shopping centre called Loch Logan Waterfront is the shopping hub of Bloemfontein, one of the largest shopping centres in central South Africa. It offers sport, entertainment and a multiplicity of retail stores. Bloemfontein is most famous for its roses, every year in October the city hosts the Mangaung Rose Festival, which first took place in 1976. During the festival, the Mangaung Rose Classic Cycle Tour event ensues annually, the race distances are 22km, 56km and 106km. In collaboration with the Rose Festival, the “Let’s Green Bloem Expo” gives green or organic local businesses an opportunity to grow and promote their products, services and support new innovations in green energy, solar power, water systems and a green environment. The festival is located at the Loch Logan Waterfront, rose enthusiasts and participants come from all over Africa and the world, making Bloemfontein a popular tourist destination.