11 August 2012 by Zintle Mtyeku

Welcome to the Diamond City - a photo essay

‘The Big Hole’ is a name that is self explanatory, yet is also so befitting of this iconic South African attraction and the heady days of the diamond rush in Kimberley.

The capital city of the Northern Cape province, Kimberley, is also known as the 'Diamond City' and is most famously home to the Big Hole.

Known to be the biggest man-made hole in the world, the size of 8 football fields, this famous icon never disappoints. It is both a symbol of the 1870s diamond rush and testimony to the determination of the people who dug it, mostly just with picks and spades.

The hole has produced a total of 14 504 566 carats in diamonds, equivalent to a staggering 2 722 kilograms. No visit to Kimberley is complete without touring the Big Hole, which is today owned by De Beers, and has a charming museum on its lip, where you can learn more about those heady days of diamond and dust.

Once you enter the Big Hole premises, it feels like you have time travelled back to the 1800s. A luxury coach from one of the first trains used by the directors and more important employees and guests of De Beers is on display. All items and the coach have been left in their original state. This train used to connect commuters from Kimberley and its diamond fields to Johannesburg and its gold fields.

Staying true to the 1800s cityscapes, many of the old buildings at the Big Hole are originals that were moved here from various parts of Kimberley, and now provided an authentic historic experience to visitors.

Choose your direction, explore and experience something new at the Big Hole village.

Hop onto the tram for a ride through the village just as Kimberley residents would have travelled through their city in 1800s.

The entrance to the Big Hole adds a very modern twist to the historic village. Inside, you will find charming jewellery shops and an interactive and visually exciting museum that provides visitors with the history of Kimberley and the story of the Big Hole.

The Big Hole seen from the vistitors’ viewing deck.

Enjoy an underground tour that gives you a visual idea of what the Big Hole looked like as mining for diamonds continued deep in the depths of the edarth.

View a simulated dynamite explosion, as well as see and handle handmade tools that were actually used in the mines and were made and customised as and when needed by workers inside the mines.

Inside the Big Hole museum, the history of Kimberley and the diamond rush days is recorded and presented in a colourful and interactive exhibition.

Read up about the events that lead to the discovery of diamonds, see replicas of the world’s most famous and largest diamonds and finaly, enter the diamond vault to feast your eyes on a display of real diamonds found in the Kimberley area.

Category: Attractions, Culture & History

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