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NNaval Hill in Bloemfontein forms part of the Franklin Game Reserve, and earned its name from the two naval guns that were on the hill by the British during the South African War. It is the only game reserve situated in the middle of a city, and its rich indigenous plant life adds to the beauty and attraction of this space.
TThe 250-hectare reserve was established in 1930 and has a wide variety of wildlife as well as a rich and varied bird population. The reserve does not have any predators and as there is no entrance fee, many joggers make full use of the reserve as well as local residents and tourists.
AAn iconic feature on the east side of Naval Hill is the "White Horse", a sculpture of a white horse created from rocks painted white. It was declared a national monument in 1982. The horse was laid out during the South African War as a landmark for the British cavalry who could see it from afar.
A remount camp was stationed here after the British captured Bloemfontein from the Boers on 15 March 1900. The White Horse was most likely the handiwork of men of the Second Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh's Wiltshire regiment, and is said to be the only Wiltshire white horse that is not in Wiltshire.
OOne of several urban legends about the White Horse is that every time a maiden is kissed on Naval Hill, it moves a step forward.
But the star of the show on Naval Hill, and the reason for its many visitors, is the majestic statue of Nelson Mandela, erected in December 2012. Measuring 8m in height, a larger-than-life replica, Mandela stands with his fist raised in the air, overlooking Bloemfontein and facing the birthplace of the ANC.
The R3 million statue faces the Methodist Church in Waaihoek, which was the location where the ANC was established in 1912; the oldest liberation movement in Africa.
As beautiful as the Free State is, it’s equally interesting and dynamic. It’s centred around traditional African cultures, as well as influences of the early European settlers.
The Oliewenhuis Art Museum may be called a “museum”, but it's really an art experience – gallery, restaurants, gardens and all!
If you’re a history buff, particularly military history, then the Battlefields Route in the Free State province will take you on a journey through the sites of some of the fiercest battles in South African history.
If you’re looking for that raw mix of South African culture and breathtaking scenery, then you have to visit the Basotho Cultural Village in the Free State province.
Are you a creative soul? Does the great outdoors fuel your artistic spirit? Visit the charming town of Clarens in the Free State and you’ll discover why we call it an artist's hideout.