Bloemfontein is a curious place, where you get smalltown hospitality in a rapidly expanding city. The judicial capital of South Africa has been a major player in the shaping of our country’s history and the many museums dotted in and around town pay tribute to the creation of the stories of our past.
The National Museum in Aliwal Street focuses on natural history, cultural history, and art. The collections date back to 1877 and the displays are comprised of rarities from around the world. The African Cultures and Archaeology exhibits are not only interesting and informative but expertly curated. A favorite among visitors is the historic street scene depicting life in the early 20th Century, and kids enjoy the live displays showcasing, among other things, boa constrictors, a terrapin, platannas, and two live cockroach displays. Be prepared to spend a few hours here, as you’ll find something unusual and interesting in every exhibit.
If you’re interested in language development, take a stroll along President Brand Street, also known as Bloemfontein’s historical mile, where you’ll find classic sandstone buildings lining the streets. Walk in the footsteps of many a dignitary until you reach the 3rd Raadsaal, home to The National Afrikaans Literary Museum and Research Centre (NALN). It is located in the beautiful Old Free State Government Building and includes an estimated three-quarter of a million items in their archive of material and information on the history, development, and scope of literature, music, and drama in the Afrikaans language. You can also view furniture and other effects of writers and literary personalities. In front of the building, you’ll find the historic tree garden where busts of writers, musicians and dramatists have been installed in their shade.
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