entrance to Philippolis
late afternoon in Philippolis
Philippolis is a quintessential town if ever there was
one. It has a rich history not only is it the oldest settlement in the Free
state, having been established as a mission in 1823, it was also the centre of
the old Griqua captaincies and was caught up in the cataclysmic events of the
Philippolis is in the centre of South Africa, making it an
ideal stop over for tourists travelling to and from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
The deviation off the N1 highway is in fact shorter than the actual N1, making
this not a detour at all.
ATTRACTIONS IN THE TOWN OF PHILIPPOLIS
1. Laurence van der Post Memorial Centre -
closed at the moment...
This memorial centre is the first tourist attraction as
tourists enter the town of Philippolis. It consists of a memorial garden called
the journey through life, a reproduction of Van der Post’s study and memorial
photographs. The centre was erected by his daughter and the Van der Post
Trust. It commemorates this very famous son of Philippolis.
2. The Old Jail
The date of erection is unknown. Today it is no longer
used as a jail but is a privately owned guesthouse, utilising the cells as rooms
for guests. Viewing of the jail by appointment.
3. Emily Hobhouse Memorial
Emily Hobhouse Memorial (1860 – 1926) is in the main road,
next to the Food Zone shop. It commemorates this amazing British lady who strove
to improve the conditions in the Anglo Boer War concentration camps. After the
war she became involved in the social upliftment of young Afrikaner women. She
established a spinning and weaving school in Philippolis in 1905. Emily
Hobhouse is buried at the Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein, but Philippolis
honours her memory.
4. Three canons
Overlooking the town, from a vantage point on top of a
small hill, are three canons still in pristine condition. These date from the
wars between the Boers, the Griqua’s and the Basotho. An 1861 inventory
indicates that Adam Kok III possessed three similar canons.
5. Ammunition Store (Die Kruithuis)
While its exact date of erection is unknown, this store
was according to tradition used by both Adam Kok II and III. The walls are 480
mm thick. The neo-classical, gothic style suggests that alterations were made
at some stage. Viewing is possible at any time, but to enter an appointment must
6. Dutch Reformed Church (1871)
The first reverent was Rev and Mrs Colin Fraser,
father-in-law of President M T Steyn. The residence of the minister of this
church was burnt down during the Anglo Boer War while the church was used as a
fort by the British. It was damaged by fire in 1925 and has since then been
modernized. The original Belgian organ dating to 1871 is still in use. The
pulpit dates from the erection of the church and is unique in that it contains
no screws or bolts.
7. Flat roofed Karoo House (1860)
This is the oldest house or building in Philippolis. This
is indicated by the 650 mm thick walls and the unfired bricks used. Tradition
has it that this was the residence of Adam Kok III.
8. Tomkins Koppie
Named after the commanding officer of the British troops
that occupied Philippolis during the Anglo Boer War. Tomkins and his men were
cornered on the koppie for several days without food or water by the Boer
9. Oom Japie se huis
In the main street of Philippolis this Victorian House has
recently been converted into a second hand bookshop and also offers light
lunches daily. Evening meals can be arranged by appointment. Art exhibitions
on a regular basis are planned.
10. NG Kerk in Afrika, Poding-Tse-Rolo
First used by the Griquas as a church. In 1946 it was
taken over by the NG Kerk in Afrika for the residents of Poding-Tse-Rolo.
11. EMI Church, Poding-Tse-Rolo
This derelict mud building is very old and has been in use
as a church since the mid-1800.
12. Trans Gariep Museum - under
A quaint museum in the main road tells the story of the
history of Philippolis. It is also the only museum in the country licensed to
sell liquor – the potent Witblits (Tiger Milk) endemic to most of rural South
Africa. The museum is open from 08:30 to 16:00 Monday to Friday.
A historical map of the town listing all the historical
buildings is available from the Tourist Information Office and some guesthouses.
Even though many of the historical buildings are now in private ownership and
are therefore not open to the public, walking along the historical streets of
Philippolis makes visitors realise that they are surrounded by generations of
The town also offers a clinic and has a resident medical
doctor. The nearest hospital is in Colesberg.
BUSINESSES IN PHILIPPOLIS
The town offers a number of businesses catering to
tourists needs. There is a general dealer, Ons Dien, which sells basic
foodstuffs as well as clothing. There are four café’s in town Indraf, Kokkewiet,
Philippolis Lodge café and Dit en Dat. Two stores in town provide clothing,
Fouche’s and a Chinese shop. First National Bank is the only bank in town and C
& J Motors the only filling station with a breakdown vehicle repair workshop.
The butchery in town is called Vroda Vleis and specialises in Karoo Lamb.
ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE OF PHILIPPOLIS
The towns of Springfontein and Jagersfontein offer
historical sites and attractions. Near Springfontein is the site of one of the
largest concentration camps of the Anglo Boer War. In Jagersfontein is the
largest open cast diamond mine in the world – larger than Kimberley. The town
of Gariep is also close by and lies next to the famous Gariep Dam. Philippolis
is surrounded by farms, most of which are sheep farms. Olives have recently
been planted on a farm on the way to Colesberg