, the capital of the Northern Cape province, is known as the Diamond City.
It is located approximately 110 km east of the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. Kimberley has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and finally the siege during the Second Boer War.
A sign next to the Big Hole, reading “If all the diamonds recovered from the Kimberley Mine could be gathered together they would fill three cocopans such as these”.
The various smaller mining companies were amalgamated by Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd into De Beers, and also The Kimberley under Barney Barnato. In 1888 due to the two companies merging to form De Beers Consolidated Mines. Which as a result once had a monopoly over the world’s diamond market.
Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, partly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms. The De Beers company was in search of cheap labor to help run the mines. The city grew in number and many people across the continent traveled to this renowned city. It was praised as a city of limitless opportunity.
Five big holes were dug into the earth following the kimberlite pipes, which are named after the town. Kimberlite is a diamond-bearing blue ground that sits below a yellow colored soil. The largest, The Kimberley mine or “Big Hole” covering 170,000 square metres (42 acres), reached a depth of 240 metres (790 ft) and yielded three tons of diamonds. The mine was closed in 1914, while the three of the holes – Dutoitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein – closed down in 2005.
Adjacent to the Big Hole is the Kimberley Mine Museum. The museum which brings to life the way the city was during the frenetic days of the diamond rush. Many of the buildings here are originals that have finally been moved over the years to this spot. If you are not claustrophobic, take the guided tour of a once-operational diamond mine which descends a staggering 840m below the earth.
A few kilometres from the city centre lies Kimberley’s oldest residential suburb Belgravia. Which dates back to the 1870’s, and as a result these homes were built at the peak of diamond trade. The most noteworthy this is where South Africa’s mining dynasty’s patriarch, Harry Oppenheimer, was born. It’s said that there once was more millionaires in this area than anywhere else in the world.
Finally art lovers are also in for a treat. The Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre showcases San art, both ancient rock art and contemporary creations. Not far away is the William Humphreys Art Gallery, specializing in South African artists but also offering a fine collection of 16th and 17th century Flemish, Dutch, English and French masters.
The towns found in the Green Kalahari are:
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