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TThe Anglo-Boer War Museum marks a major landmark in South African history: a war between the Boers and the British, with other population groups that could not escape being pulled into the fray. It had consequences for both the British and the fledgling nation, with an especially heavy toll paid by women and children.
South Africa began the 20th century in a state of war. The Boers had established 2 independent republics, namely the Orange Free State and the South African Republic, and they were engaged in a war with the British, who controlled the Cape. This clash of British imperialism and Afrikaner nationalism, lasting from 1899 to 1902, engaged all population groups in the country.
While museums exist at many of the war battlefields, it is at Bloemfontein's Anglo-Boer War Museum that the full story is told.
Over and above the dioramas, exhibits and the art collection housed at the museum in Bloemfontein, the establishment strives to give the visitor insight into and understanding of the circumstances and background that led to the tragic war.
It then traces the development of events from start to finish, offering a glimpse into aspects the war became notorious for, such as concentration and prisoner-of-war camps.
The use of concentration camps, in which thousands of women and children were interned in poor conditions, resulted in many casualties. Those who lost their lives are commemorated by the Women's Memorial on the same site, fronted by a sculpture by the renowned South African Anton van Wouw.
The Anglo-Boer War Museum introduces the visitor to interesting role players, such as Emily Hobhouse, the British activist who alerted her countrymen to the mistreatment of Afrikaner women and children, and Mahatma Ghandi, the secretary of the Natal Indian Congress, who motivated the use of Indian volunteers as stretcher bearers for the British.
The war ended in 1902 with the surrender of the Boers and the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging at Melrose House in Pretoria.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Anglo-Boer War Museum
Monument Road, Bloemfontein
Tel: +27 (0)51 447 3447/0079
How to get here
Bloemfontein can be reached from Johannesburg in a drive of 400km or by air in a flight which lasts under an hour. There are also long-distance bus services. Flights and bus services are also available from the Cape.
Best time to visit
The museum is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm during the week; 10am to 5pm on Saturday, and 2pm to 5pm on Sunday.
Things to do
Naval Hill is the central focus of Bloemfontein, from which you can view the city below. The hill is also the location of the Franklin Nature Reserve where buffalo and giraffe roam. It also has an observatory converted into a theatre.
Consider hiring a car.
What will it cost?
Adults should expect to pay around R20.
Length of stay
You'll need a good couple of hours to work your way through the entire Anglo-Boer War Museum.
Where to stay
There is a wide choice of guesthouse accommodation in Bloemfontein, as well as conventional hotels of all grades.