Bloemfontein stands at the centre of South Africa.
Renowned for its hospitality, diligence and order, the city's name is derived from the large number of flowers that reputedly grew around an old fountain on a farm belonging to Johannes Nicolaas Brits, one of the Voortrekkers, the 19th century Afrikaner pioneers who headed north in search of land.
Bloemfontein was named as capital at the declaration of the Republic of the Orange Free State in 1854, and the city's status was enhanced in 1919 when it was named as the judicial capital of the Union of South Africa.
Originally an agricultural settlement, founded in the midst of vast, fertile plains, it was the discovery of gold in the northern Free State that transformed the city into the steadily thriving commercial and industrial city that "Bloem" has become today.
Once reputed as stern and rigid, where any kind of sport was expressly forbidden on Sundays, the tone of the place has softened over the past decade. Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu have merged to form Greater Mangaung, translated as the place of the leopard, and civic society has united to develop prosperity for all - low levels of crime, an absence of road rage, a strong sense of community and a broad readiness to smile.
"Vrystaat!" (Free State!). The call resounds through the history of South African sport, where Bloemfontein Celtic, the local Premier League soccer club, and Free State's rugby and cricket teams have regularly punched above their weight in domestic competition.
Compensating small resources with simple guts and courage, the people of Bloemfontein have developed a strong, proud sporting heritage.
Indeed, the city hosted matches during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 1996 African Cup of Nations and at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, impressing visitors with hospitality and enthusiasm.
The main sporting precinct is one of the best appointed in the country with a world class soccer stadium standing cheek by jowl with first rate venues for cricket, hockey, athletics, swimming and tennis, all within a radius of just one kilometre.
The Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Free State, is to have a major upgrade, with a third tier added, increasing its capacity to 45 000. It will host five first-round matches and one second-round.
Quick Links to Accommodation and Car Hire in this region:
» Bloemfontein City Guide
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» Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein
The Final 10 Stadiums for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa:
- Green Point Stadium in Cape Town - Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth
- King Senzangakhona Stadium in Durban - Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein
- Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg - Soccer City in Johannesburg
- Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg - Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria
- Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit - Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane