Kimberley is the capital and largest city of the Northern Cape. The city has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and the siege during the Second Boer War. British businessmen Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes in Kimberley, and Rhodes established the De Beers diamond company in the early days of the mining town.
Kimberley is was founded in 1871 when diamonds were discovered on a nearby farm named Vooruitzicht (owned by the De Beers brothers). The town was also known as New Rush before it was renamed to Kimberley.
On September 2, 1882, Kimberley was the first city in the Southern Hemisphere and the second in the world after Philadelphia in the United States to integrate electric street lights into its infrastructure. The first Stock Exchange in Africa was built in Kimberley, as early as 1881.
The “Diamond City”, is in the centre of South Africa with two national roads leading to it. The N12 (Cape Town via the N1 to the south and Pretoria/Johannesburg to the north) and the N8 going east to west.
The city projects itself as a significant tourist destination, the ‘City that Sparkles’, boasting a diversity of museums and visitor attractions. It is also a gateway to other Northern Cape destinations including the Mokala National Park, nature reserves and numerous game farms or hunting lodges, as well as historic sites of the region.
Attractions in Kimberley include:
– Do you want to retrace the lives of the rough-and-ready diggers who made it all happen? Or experience life in Kimberley as it must have been during the diamond-rush days when races, lotteries, pubs, and ballrooms made the town a very bright place indeed? Then visit the Kimberley Mine Museum. Consisting of original and carefully reconstructed buildings this open-air museum has preserved a great deal of the city’s past.
– Containing a wealth of Africana and other historically significant material, the Africana library offers its visitors valuable insight into the Northern Cape, diamond mining, travel, and missionary word and early printed works, including Tswana printing.
– Rhodes’s envisaged Cape to Cairo railway passes through Kimberley, and steam train enthusiasts will have a field day when they visit the Beaconsfield Marshalling Yards. Here a few of the steam locomotives in beautiful condition are still to be seen.
– For those who would like to travel to the Kimberley Mine Museum in grand old style, a ride on the Kimberley Tram is a must. Tram services were introduced to Kimberley in 1887 and ultimately came to a halt in 1947. Revived in 1985, the tram service now operates daily between 09:00 and 16:30 carrying visitors between De Beers and the Star of the West.
– The Gardens are a memorial to the late Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, diamond magnate and the first elected mayor of the municipality of the city of Kimberley when Beaconsfield and Kimberley were combined into a city in 1912.
– The Peace and Justice Memorial on the Greenpoint Community Square on the Square in one of Kimberley’s oldest suburbs, Greenpoint, was unveiled in September 1998 by the then Mayor, Alderman Maria Chwarisang.
The sculptor, Kimberley resident Wilfred Delport, originally designed it in 1968 as an appeal to the apartheid government to release all political figures including Nelson Mandela. It was then entitled “The Appeal for Peace and Justice”.
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