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A Historical Gem
Philippolis is the Free States’ oldest town, lying virtually square in the middle of South Africa! The small town once lay alongside the N1, before it was rerouted via the Gariep Dam, and so Colesburg defaulted as the stopover town for journeys along one of our countries’ busiest national roads.
Philippolis is just a short detour now from the N1 and offers a journey into the past if you choose to take it! It is a little historical gem, a place time forgot and where donkey carts plod down the main street! This small treasure has the highest number of national monuments in the province after Bloemfontein and Bethlehem - just in Voortrekker Street, a pine-lined avenue, there is a wealth of historical buildings including the Victorian Jacobson Library and the Transgariep Museum.
Philippolis is also the birth place of Laurens van der Post, renowned author, political advisor to British heads of government and godparent to Prince William. His childhood home, built in 1874, is perfectly preserved with thick mud walls, stained glass doors and wooden floors.
Other historical spots to visit would be Griqua leader Adam Kok’s original green-doored house and don’t miss out on the Dutch Reformed Church which was consecrated in 1871 on the site of the old Griqua Church.
Philippolis offers a variety of accommodation in the form of guest houses, B&B’s and self-catering units. The Old Jail is probably the most popular guesthouse in town and is also a historic attraction for those who just want to view by appointment.
Things to do and see
- Transgariep Museum
- Laurens Van Der Post Memorial
- Adam Kok House
- Gariep Dam Nature Reserve
- Tiger Canyons
- Philippolis Old Jail
Philippolis receives approximately 391 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during the Summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 13˚C and 32˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -2˚C and 22˚C.
There are daily domestic and international flights into Bloemfontein’s Bram Fischer Airport approximately 178 km’s away via the R717 and N1 and into Kimberley Airport, approximately 198 km away via the R704. Car rental companies are available for easy access around the area.
Philippolis was originally a station of the London Missionary Society in 1823, and was named after Dr John Philip, their Superintendent in South Africa. Adam Kok, a Griqua leader, settled here with his people in 1826 and was established as a protector of the mission.
The town was the centre of the old Griqua captaincies and was caught up in the events of the Boer War.
When the government of the Orange Free State agreed to sell the land to Britain for 400 pounds, Kok left with his people, and migrated 500 km to Griqualand East.
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