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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Free State
Free State - TravelPuppy.com
The central Free State metamorphoses from grassland combined with small granite outcrops in the west to wonderful sandstone hills in the east.

The capital of this province is Bloemfontein, a striking but unattractive town which has some surprisingly good museums, including the National Afrikaans Literary Museum, the National Museum, the old Fourth Raadsaal (parliament) of the old Free State Republic, and the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery. By far the most fascinating is the National Women’s Memorial and War Museum, telling the unsettling story of the Boer War and the British concentration camps (where 26,370 children and women died) from the Afrikaans perspective.

Outside Bloemfontein, the southern Free State is home to the Gariep Dam, a massive 374 square kilometres (144 square miles) reservoir, built for irrigation and hydroelectric power. However, the State’s most appealing scenery lies in the eastern highlands, on the Lesotho border. From Bloemfontein, hills rise steadily as 1 heads past Thaba’nchu, the old seat of the Basotho kings, to Ladybrand, the main route into Lesotho.

North from here are Ficksburg, which has a yearly cherry festival in spring and the new age settlement of Rustler’s Valley, which also hosts a yearly music festival in autumn. Further to the northeast is the Golden Gate National Park, verging on the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, characterised by huge weathered sandstone cliffs tinted a multitude of shades of red, yellow and orange.
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Bloemfontein the capital of the free state