Naval Hill

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Naval Hill,with it's statue of Nelson Mandela Image source

An extremely popular spot providing excellent views of the town and the Franklin Game Reserve forms part of the hill. Several types of big and small game can be seen in their natural habitat. Bloemfontein could well be the only city in the world that has a game reserve in the heart of the city. 

Contrary to popular belief, the two naval guns are no longer on Naval Hill. The Naval Brigade took the canons with them after the Anglo-Boer war ended. The only visible evidence of Naval Hill's war history is a White Horse on the eastern hillside. The White Horse was an important landmark for soldiers during the war.
Dominating the Bloemfontein skyline, standing proudly in the heart of the City of Roses is Naval Hill. Standing atop this geographic wonder, you are provided with an exquisite panoramic view of Bloemfontein. Located within the Franklin Game Reserve, it is known for both its natural beauty and its historical significance.
 
Franklin Game Reserve on Naval Hill is currently the only nature reserve in the world to be located in the middle of a city. The reserve was established in 1930 and encompasses an area of 250 hectares. Within the reserve you will discover amazing African wildlife including zebra, blesbok, springbok, giraffe and eland as well as abundant bird life. Visitors are welcomed into the Franklin Game Reserve for free. A wonderful outing surrounded by indigenous flora and fauna, the reserve attracts residents, tourists and many joggers.
 
Standing on the crest of flat-topped Naval Hill are 2 British naval guns. Many years ago, Naval Hill was home to Back in 1928 the Mayor of Bloemfontein opened the Lamont-Hussey Observatory on Naval Hill. At that time it was under the ownership of the University of Michigan. It was however closed in 1974 and later revamped into a lovely theater called Observatory Theater or Sterrewag Theater. Why not venture here for a performance in this unique setting. Also standing on Naval Hill is the White Horse, a sculpture set-up during the Anglo-Boer War by Wiltshire Remount Depot's men. The massive statue was an excellent landmark for the British cavalry who were returning to the depot. Certain of Bloemfontein's Sotho people say that the White Horse was created in the image of King Mosoeshoe's top steed. It is said that every time someone receives a kiss at Naval Hill the large White Horse moves one step forward.
To date, including the ones in foreign lands, this statue of Nelson Mandela remains the largest one made in honour of this world icon and stands at 8 m in height. It was unveiled on 7 December 2012. The sculptor Kobus Hattingh was the creator of this bronze sculpture, as well as the one in Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.
 
The statue was donated by a private individual, Mr Freddy Kenny and it was decided to place it at Naval Hill as there are plans in the making for this space to be enhanced as a tourist hotspot. The 3 million Rand statue faces the Methodist Church in Waaihoek, which was the location where the ANC was established in 1912; the oldest liberation movement in Africa. Naval Hill is rich with historic relevance and local folklore. During the Anglo-Boer War the British Wiltshire Regiment was stationed on Naval Hill. There could not have been a better site to put this gigantic statue of Nelson Mandela; in a beautiful game reserve as a symbol of his freedom, and overlooking a town of historical significance.
 
Bloemfontein is called The City of Roses and it is in this beautiful part of the country in the Franklin Nature Reserve with its unusual flat topped hill called Naval Hill and its awe inspiring views. It is the only game reserve in the world that is right in the middle of a city and its indigenous plant life adds to the beauty and attraction of this space. The 250 hectare reserve was established in 1930 and has a wide variety of wild life and 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 many tourists.
The Lamont Hussey Observatory at Naval Hill was opened in 1928 and was owned by the University of Michigan. It was revamped in 1974 and partially reconstructed as a theatre that is currently known as the Naval Hill Planetarium Theatre.
 
The White Horse is a large sculpture from the Anglo Boer War days and is positioned on the east side of Naval Hill. It was declared a national monument in 1982. It is made from stones and painted white.The Sotho speaking people believe that the horse was made in the likeness of King Moshoeshoe’s best stallion and that every time someone is kissed on the Hill, the White Horse moves one step forward. The site of the white horse stone is a Provincial Heritage Site.
 
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Last updated : 27-Jul-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 14-Jul-2011

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