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entrance to Philippolis

late afternoon in Philippolis

nearby houses

nearby houses


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 Boer War. 

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. 


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 be made. 

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 forces. 

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 renovation...

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 history. 

The town also offers a clinic and has a resident medical doctor.  The nearest hospital is in Colesberg. 


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. 


Orange River

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