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Fascinating Free-State - How Philippolis gots its name

South African Dorps - Philippolis

The southern Free State town of Philippolis, once the capital of the Griquas, is a perfect halfway house between Gauteng and Cape Town. 

It was founded in 1823 as a station of the London Missionary Society and became a municipality in 1862. 

Named after Dr. John Philip (1775-1851), superintendent of the London Missionary Society, who selected the site.

Philippolis should not be confused with Philipstown, a town 56 km north-east of De Aar.  It was established in 1863 and named after sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse, governor of the Cape Colony from 1861 to 1870.

If you want to explore small town South Africa, a visit to the Free State should top your road-trip agenda. With endless veld, impossibly blue skies and the ubiquitous lonely windmill every few kilometres, this is archetypal South African scenery in its purest form.


Though this province has always drawn history-lovers due to its fascinating Boer past, it was once seen as a staid backwater left off any modern-day traveller’s must-see list. The Free State has come into its own over the past few years on the back of the growing yearning among city dwellers for a more simple way of life. Anthony Trollop wrote, after visiting Bloemfontein back in the 1870s, ‘The town is so quiet and seems to be so happy and contented, removed so far away from strife and want and disorder, that the beholder … is tempted to think the peace of such an abode is better than the excitement of Paris, London or New York.”

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Wherever your Free State travels take you, Portfolio can guide you to the best, quality and luxury Free State accommodation in a range of B&Bs, guest houses, farm stays and safari lodges in this South African province.