Clarens - The Art Capital of SA
Clarens is referred to by some as the 'art capital of South Africa'.
The Clarens Valley in the Eastern Free State Highlands is situated 20 km's from the Golden Gate National Park, 40 km's from Bethlehem, and on the Northernmost point of Lesotho. Clarens is known for its spectacular sandstone mountains and wonderful climate and is one of the most picturesque spots in South Africa. Clarens also has spectacular horse riding country that very few people have discovered.
Clarens is renowned for its art scene and the town hosts more art exhibitions every month than the whole of Johannesburg. Throughout the year and especially during the autumnal months, the magnificent scenery of Clarens attracts many artists and photographers looking to capture the transformation of the terrain from verdant summer greens to luxurious rich shades of gold.
A Brief History
The village was named Clarens in honour of President Paul Kruger's influence in the area.
The folk of Clarens believe it all began with two major events in 1912; firstly the establishment of Clarens and secondly, the launch of the infamous Titanic. The tragic sinking of the Titanic caused a stir amongst the towns folk and one unknown resident looked toward the 'nek' a large, prominent jutting rock and proclaimed, 'It looks like the Titanic'. The rock formation has been called the Titanic ever since. The huge rock stands like a sentry to welcome all who visit the village, inviting them to come and experience the warm-hearted hospitality of the inhabitants.
The village was named Clarens in honour of past President Paul Kruger's influence in the area - President Kruger spent his last days in voluntary exile in the Swiss town of Clarens.
The Jewel of the Free State
All around are the sandstone cliffs with their multi-coloured layers - this horizontal strata is a unique geological feature of the area and is known as the Clarens formation
Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendour. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, while the mighty Maluti's stand proud in shades of purple and blue further to the southeast. All around the sandstone cliffs, with their multi-coloured layers, is a horizontal strata, a unique geological feature of the area and known as the Clarens formation. Many homes in the Clarens Valley are built with Clarens Sandstone.
The village has become aptly labelled the "Jewel of the Free State" - rich in beauty, with an aura of peace and tranquility. Clarens is endowed with more trees than many other Free State towns - the fresh, light green willows and colourful blossoms of the many fruit trees are an unforgettable sight in spring time. During Autumn, the magnificent autumnal shades of the Lombard Poplars attract artists, photographers and nature lovers alike.
The Maluti route, as the Eastern Free State is sometimes referred to, also boasts a multitude of festivals throughout the year. The annual Cherry Festival in Ficksburg; the "Bielie Mielie" festival in Reitz; the Wheat Festival in Bethlehem; the Roof of Africa Rally; the SA Skiing Championships; Sondella Cultural Youth Festival and the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival, are but a few.
The Clarens Golf Estate offers you a chance to enjoy all of this, be it for a weekend treat or your primary home, take a step back and relish the opulence of this magnificent corner of South Africa.
Things to do in Clarens
You'll find horse rides for the children, bushman painting activities, river rafting and host of fantastic outdoor adventure activities
Start off by walking around President Square and visiting the many arts & crafts shops. Clarens hosts a large number of art galleries including 'The Weaver Nest Gallery' (for Clarens scenery in pastels and oils); 'The Enslin Vorster Studio' (where you'll find landscape art and pottery; and 'The Rooikat Gallery' (for exquisite handmade knives and pottery).
Don't miss 'The Barbet', for authentic local craft and the famous little country store, 'The Post House'. You'll find horse riding for the children, bushman painting activities, river rafting and host of fantastic outdoor adventure activities.
Special places of interest are:
- Titanic Rock - overlooking the entrance to Clarens
- The Ash River Outfall
- View points on the Bethlehem road about 8km from Clarens
- Mushroom Rock - on Clifton Farms about 3km on the Fouriesburg road
- Fertility Caves - The second biggest overhanging cave in the Southern Hemisphere
- Surrender Hill - 9km out of town on the Fouriesburg road